I just spoke with Kalia’s* mother this morning. Here is the story. Her Mom cannot afford the high-cost and additional fees of phone calls to allow her daughter to speak with her incarcerated father
Kalia’s mom isn’t alone. The Pew Center on the States reported yesterday:
Espinola Quinna’s children haven’t spoken to their father in more than two months. He is in prison in Louisiana, and an inmate phone account costs upwards of $25 to set up and then must be reloaded regularly. Individual calls from a Louisiana prison or jail cost about 30 cents a minute, too much for the family to afford.
Here is the thing. There is a vote coming to the Louisiana Public Service Commissioners that can turn back this injustice. But we need folks to speak out today.
For these families the phone is the family lifeline.
Unfortunately, a few, telecommunication companies have found a gap in our system that allows them to charge downright exploitative costs for phone calls while providing a generous kick-back to the state that one LA Commissioner described as “blood money.”
Next week, in the state of Louisiana the financial fate of hundreds, possibly thousands of families, and their ability to stay connected with each other will be decided by the state Louisiana Public Service Commissioners. We are pretty sure it is going to come down to one vote.
Two Commissioners, Commissioners Campbell (District 5) and Field (District 2), voted YES on the proposal. Two Commissioners, Commissioners Skrmetta (District 1) and Holloway (District 4) voted NO. The fifth Commissioner, Commissioner Boissier, abstained. The Commissioners voted 3-2 to push the vote back to December to allow the Louisiana Sheriffs Association to do more research on the issue.
The next vote, and what we believe to be the final opportunity, will take place December 12th. Dozens of residents in Louisiana have spoken up, but we have heard from our allies that it hasn’t been enough of a demonstration to public support.
If you live in Louisiana you know the state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts.
Join with our some of our most vulnerable citizens, the children of prisoners and tell the Commission to end the kickbacks.
Also, if you want to spread the word, download the Louisiana Phone Justice flyer (above) from the Promise of Justice Initiative.