FCC Moves to Cut Prison Phone Rates
The Federal Communications Commission will vote next week on an order to cut the rates that prisoners pay for interstate phone calls.
The agency will also seek public comments on whether to limit rates for calls within states.
“For too long, the high cost of long-distance calls from prisoners to their loved ones across state lines has chronically impacted parents and children, especially among low-income families,” Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said in a statement.” Multiple studies have shown that meaningful contact beyond prison walls can make a real difference in maintaining community ties, promoting rehabilitation, and reducing recidivism.”
Reducing prison phone rates was a focus for Clyburn when she was a commissioner and has been a priority for her since she took the helm of the agency in May.
Prisons request bids from telephone companies to provide service and require each bid to include a fee to the prison. Critics argue the system encourages exorbitant rates.
A typical interstate collect call from prison has a $3.95 connection fee and rates as high as 90 cents per minute, according to civil liberties groups. A 15-minute collect call could cost families $10 to $17, and a one-hour call once a week would cost $250 per month.