Campaign for Prison Phone Justice

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

Wright Petition on the Move: Prisoners, Families, Campaign Allies Comment by the Thousands

Apr 4, 2013 | by admin

In a few short weeks, thousands of individuals and organizations filed comments with the FCC concerning the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the Wright Petition.

“This was in no way a coincidence that I stumbled upon the article in Prison Legal News regarding this Campaign for Prison Phone Justice. When I read of the FCC’s ‘Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’ and the option to submit a comment I immediately put my pen to work.”– Stacey Schoolfield, Prisoner, Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, Jessup, MD

In a few short weeks, thousands of individuals and organizations filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concerning the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the Wright Petition for just, reasonable and affordable interstate phone calls from prisons.

Campaign for Prison Phone Justice allies stepped it up to gather comments and signatures from around the nation in support of affordable rates for prison phone calls. The Justice Fellowship submitted a comment with 4,267 signatures and CREDO Mobile submitted more than 20,000 sign-ons in support of the Wright Petition. Color of Change submitted a comment with 24,457 signatures. Many of the signers shared their unique experience with the prison phone system and suggested incisive reforms that would provide relief for prisoners and their families.

We are blown away by the number of organizations and individuals that contributed fabulous comments addressing the questions asked in the FCC’s NPRM. Among these contributors are: Michigan Citizens for Prison Reform, Prison Phone Rates working group of the Civil Rights Media and Telecommunications Roundtable, Vera Institute of Justice, Texas Jail Project, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, NYU Law Immigration Rights Clinic and New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf, American Civil Liberties Union, Texas Civil Rights Project and dozens of MAG-Net groups.

More than two-thirds of the comments submitted in favor of the Wright Petition to cap the cost of prison phone calls were filed by prisoners and their families. The hundreds of handwritten and typewritten comments mailed in to the FCC spoke to the hardships faced by families footing the extortionate bills and provided numerous suggestions for making phone calls affordable. A significant number of comments were submitted by deaf and hard of hearing prisoners and their families, speaking to the problematic and antiquated TTY systems set up for phone calls.

We are excited to see the impact and reach of the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice through monthly national campaign calls, the “Cap the Cost” guide for grassroots groups, advertisements in prisoner newsletters and the inspiring November 2012 rally at the FCC. All these efforts contributed to the successful comment period by educating folks about the filing process and connecting individuals and groups from across the nation and political spectrum to organize and come up with strategies together.

From indigent prisoners who have to hustle to get a stamp to send a letter…to large telecommunications companies, like Verizon, who submitted a comment in favor of affordable prison phone calls: the diversity of comments and commentators speaks to the strength of our movement and the universality and urgency of the issue of communication rights for prisoners and their families.