HEARD interns Rita Torres & Alexandre Dubsky explain how the Community can support equal communication access for all deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired prisoners and their family members.
On December 28, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to address the long-standing issue of high prison telephone rates. Hearing prisoners’ telephone calls can cost their family members as much as $17 for just 15 minutes of time. These excessive rates prevent families from maintaining contact with loved ones.
Deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, speech impaired, and hearing prisoners with deaf family members endure an even greater financial burden with respect to telephone rates due to a number of factors, including (1) telephone rates being applied evenly to TTY and regular voice phone calls, the former of which is much more time-consuming; (2) failure of prisons to install videophones and captioned telephones; (3) security measures that either prevent deaf prisoners from calling relay operators or cause them to incur additional fees by requiring relay services; and (4) security measures that require deaf prisoners to only place collect calls.
The FCC has requested public comments on whether prisoner phone rates should be reduced and capped and on deaf & disabled prisoner telecommunications access. This video explains some of the inequities that persist for deaf, signing & speech impaired prisoners and their families with regard to rates for and access to telecommunications in prison.