FCC Finds Prison Phone Calls Too High

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  • Experiencing life while a love one is imprisoned can strain your emotions and relationships, but it shouldn’t strain your pocketbook.

    The Federal Communications Commission finds that the cost of phone calls from incarcerated friends and family members is at an all-time high and they are committed to changing that.

    In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC brought the issue to light finding that most inmate calls are nearly 15 times more expensive than regular phone calls.

    The problem initially came to the agency’s attention after Martha Wright complained about her $200 a month phone bill in 2003. The Washington D.C. woman talked to her grandson who is in prison for 15-minutes on a weekly basis and became fed up with the costs.

    Several civil rights groups joined together to back Wright’s complaints by filing a civil-action lawsuit on her behalf. However, a judge dismissed the case and referred Wright to the FCC.

    FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn says that since then, “tens of thousands of consumers” have “written, emailed, and yes, phoned the commission, pleading for relief on interstate long distance rates from correctional facilities.”

    Although unfamiliar to most phone users, Global Tel*Link and Securus Technologies Inc. are the two companies responsible for the majority of prison phone calls.

    Steven Renderos, a national organizer for the Center for Media Justice says that the companies attribute their high rates to “the security features their technology has” including monitoring calls and blocking phone numbers.

    However he believes that the technology alone is not enough to add up to $15 for a 15-minute call.

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