Campaign for Prison Phone Justice

The "Campaign for Prison Phone Justice" is challenging prison phone kickbacks and the U.S. Prison Telephone Industry.

Dear Secretary Dortch: 200 Prisoners and Counting Submit FCC Comments

Mar 18, 2013 | by admin

With one week until the March 25 deadline, 200 prisoners and 100 others have submitted comments to the FCC regarding the “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” on the Wright Petition.

“No one is more qualified to testify to the value of these interstate phone calls than inmates themselves,” wrote Ohio prisoners Larry Randlett and Anthony N. Bowling in their comment to the FCC.

With one week until the March 25, 2013 deadline for submitting comments regarding FCC Proceeding #12-375 (a/k/a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” on the “Wright Petition” to secure affordable calling costs for prisoners), 200 letters from prisoners have been posted to the FCC website for viewing. In the letters, prisoners detail their experiences with the high cost of prison phone calls and submit recommendations for just and reasonable rates.

“We are being charged alarming rates to use the phones in the state of PA prison system,” wrote Pennsylvania prisoner Eugene Williams. “What I suggest is that calls be lowered to $.03 per minute, that all prisoners be permitted one free call per day, no connection fees, no commission…”

Please join the chorus or prisoners, families, and advocates by submitting a comment to FCC Proceeding #12-375.

Here are some suggestions of topics you may want to address through your comments:

Rates: How much do you pay to stay in touch with a loved one in prison? What rates do you pay per minute? How much do you end up paying per month (in other words, what is your total monthly cost) to receive phone calls from prison? What has been your experience with collect calls, debit calls, and prepaid accounts?

Per-Call Charge: Share your experience paying for per-call charges (a.k.a connection fees). How much do you pay to connect a phone call? Do you pay for a connection fee every time you accept a call?

Dropped Calls: How often do calls drop when you’re communicating with a loved one behind bars? Does it happen on a regular basis? Some carriers claim that the call drops only when three-way calls are attempted. Have you had calls drop that do not involve a three-way call? Do you pay connection fees twice if the call dropped and the prisoner calls right back?

Call Volume: How often do you talk to a friend or loved one behind bars? Would you talk to them more if the rates were lowered?

Parole Requirements: In some states (e.g. California) the number of phone calls a prisoner has received from their loved ones is looked at and evaluated by the parole board. Does this happen in your state and do you have any stories of how this may have impacted either your or a loved one’s parole? Can friends or loved ones of those incarcerated confirm they would reach out to them more if the rates were lowered?

No-Cost Calls: The FCC is seeking comments on whether they should mandate a certain “amount of free calling” per prisoner per month. How would that impact a prisoner? How would it impact the families of prisoners? How many calls and for how long should prisoners be permitted to talk with their families without being charged?

Disabilities Access: The FCC is seeking comments from prisoners with hearing disabilities and whether or not they pay reasonable rates for making a prison phone call. What type of access do prisoners who are deaf and hard of hearing experience while incarcerated? Are the rates for TTY calls the same as for a regular prison phone call? Do you pay to connect to a TTY relay operator?

Download the Cap the Cost guide for more information on submitting a comment.