Imagine if this was how your daughter had to talk with you.
The auto-operator starts its message “Will you accept a collect call from…” Mary’s dad speaks quickly “Better be doing that homework. Love you.” Mary can only mouth back her answer, unable to accept the call since her dad is being held in one of our nation’s prison where the cost of prison phone calls include an outrageous cash kickback that most cannot afford.
There is a nation inside our nation, a population the equivalent in numbers to the country of Jamaica, behind bars whose small pocketbooks represent a mineral to be strip-mined and extracted by our telecommunication companies and corporate interests like Goldman Sachs.
Where we live in rural America is where most of our nation’s prisons have been built over the past twenty-years, and I can attest to the hardships of high prison phone calls on prisoner families as they fight to maintain their families. I know Mary from her calls into our weekly volunteer run radio show that sends messages over the airwaves and through prison walls for free. A small response to the cost of prison phone calls.
Prison Legal News Report:
The human rights group, Prison Legal News, has released a damning new report on prison phone kickbacks. Their discovery is that it is not the cost of the calls from prison, but the kickbacks that states demand for the contracts that children like Mary cut off from their father. The report, based on several years of research that included submitting public records requests in all 50 states, found that prison phone companies routinely provide kickbacks – euphemistically known as “commissions” – to contracting government agencies, based on a percentage of the revenue earned from prisoners’ phone calls.
These kickbacks, which average 42% of gross revenue, generated over $152 million nationwide in 2007-2008. PLN found that 42 states accept kickback commissions from prison phone companies, which include Unisys, Securus and Global Tel*Link (partly owned by investment banking firm Goldman Sachs). In some cases the commissions exceed 60% of prison phone revenue.
I’ve talked to grandmothers on fixed incomes who cut corners so her grandchildren can talk to her father. Fleecing our most vulenerable families with exorbitnate phone rates is a shameful practice. There is a national “Campaign for Prison Phone Justice” connected with the report. (full disclousure – our rural radio show which plays prisoner family calls each week to help reduce their costs is involved)
How have prison phone costs impacted your family? Call our toll-free line, 24/7, and record your story today. Speak from the heart: 877-518-0606.
Tweet this: Prison phone kickbacks takes dollars from families that could go for groceries & school supplies. #prisonphone http://bit.ly/dLI3hb