Mass Incarceration. The New Jim Crow. The War on Drugs. Thanks to Professor Michelle Alexander these phrases are now intimately linked in the minds of social justice advocates and faith leaders as we begin a critical struggle for fairness, justice and human rights in the criminal courts, police precincts and prisons of America. The Next Movement is convinced that America can do better, and that the majority of Americans would want us to do better, if they knew the truth. The truth about systemic incarceration, structural second class status, completely uneven law enforcement practices, oppressive and selectively enforced laws that is filling the prisons of America.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Break in Prison Phone Rates?


Many in the social justice and prison reform community have been for years advocating to get phone rates reduced for prisoners and their families. While telephone rates for the rest of us have been declining, almost since the invention of telephone service, the cost to prisoners has not.

At Cook County jail, for example, inmates can only make collect calls, and typically they run from $7 to $15. According to the county's numbers, during one month inmates placed over 10,000 calls that cost $15! An article from WBEZ says:
The county has a contract with Securus technologies that requires the phone company to pay almost 60 percent of what it makes from phone calls back to the county. The deal has netted the county about $12 million over the life of the three-year-old contract. 
For calls to Illinois Department of Correction facilities, I visited the Securus web site that provides a rating option. Using their standard collect rates a 5 minute call from a Chicago location to Lincoln Correctional Center would be $4.10, and it seems the same for a 15 minute call.

One of the insidious aspects of this monopolistic pricing is that it affects the poorest among us the most. Those that can least afford it. This often results in little or no contact between family members and their incarcerated loved one . . . even while the research shows that one of the keys to reducing recidivism is a continuing connection to family while a person is incarcerated.

Due to ongoing pressure, the FCC is finally looking into these practices and there is hope for relief soon. On December 28, 2012, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking aimed at addressing this egregious practice. While this is certainly encouraging news, we must continue to keep the pressure on.

Your support is needed. Please take a few minutes to sign a petition by clicking here. TAKE ACTION to stop predatory phone pricing.


1 comment:

  1. Two prisoners escaped from a St. Louis detention center on Friday using the oldest trick in the book a rope made of tied-together bed sheets.
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