The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a partial stay this morning preventing the full force of the FCC’s inmate calling caps from going into effect.
The court’s decision today is limited, it upholds the interim rates of 21 and 25 cents per minute. It will also permit the vast majority of the FCC’s new limits on predatory fees surrounding prison phone calls, including limits on calls for deaf and hard of hearing inmates. It will defer until the end of the current law suit the new rates that would cap rates as low as 11 cents per minute for local and long-distance calling.
Families of incarcerated people have been waiting for decades to pay just and reasonable rates as mandated by the Communications Act–to enjoy the same rights as everyone else in this country. Their fight will ultimately prevail, but for now they will benefit from some extremely important improvements while they wait, yet again, for their interests to be vindicated in court. Seemingly there is no limit to the lengths prison phone companies and sheriffs will go to keep their ill-gotten gains no matter the impact on these families, clergy, and lawyer-client communications.