Friday, August 28, 2015

Call to Action: The High Cost of Prison Phone Calls

As a recent article in The New York Times states, "Until the 1990s, inmates [in U.S. prisons] could place and receive calls to lawyers and family members at rates similar to those outside prison walls." That is no longer the case. Prison phone calls have become increasingly expensive, creating yet another barrier between those incarcerated and the world outside, between prisoners and their loved ones, between despair and hope, between recidivism and rehabilitation. 

Largely unregulated private enterprise profits while families suffer: the $1.2-billion-a-year profits of the prison phone system come from shaking down the families of prisoners, people who often can little afford the extra costs.

The Federal Communications Committee (FCC) finally began paying attention to the complaints of prison-rights groups and to the families of the incarcerated and have begun investigating the multi-billion dollar industry. Some reforms have been set in motion, but more needs to be done to ensure fair pricing in prison phone calls.

PLEASE DO YOUR PART:

  • By becoming informed:
  1. "The High Cost of Calling the Imprisoned," Timothy Williams, The New York Times, 30 March 2015.
  2. "PSC Commissioner Slams Prison Phone Company Payments," posted on myarklamiss.com, 18 May 2015.
  3. "Campbell Calls for Refund of Millions of Illegal Jail Telephone Fees," posted on the website of Foster Campbell, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner, 13 July 2015.
  4. "Inside the Shadowy Business of Prison Phone Calls," Eric Markowitz, orginally published in Prison Legal News, August 2015, and posted on the website of Prison Phone Justice (https://www.prisonphonejustice.org/). Other related articles are posted on this site: https://www.prisonphonejustice.org/news/articles/
  • By taking action
  1. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper supporting prison phone call reforms. Include specific information you have gathered from your reading and research and/or from personal experience.
  2. Support politicians who call for prison reforms and who back up those calls with legislative action.
  3. Communicate to leaders of your community and of local law enforcement your support of fair pricing in prison phone calls.
  4. Send messages to the FCC to support further investigation and reform of  the largely unregulated industry of the prison phone system: 
  • http://nationinside.org/campaign/prison-phone-justice/--The Nation Inside website has a link for sending a message to the FCC to end predatory prison phone rates. You can get more information at the web site and learn about the supporters of The Nation Inside, "a platform that connects and supports people who are building a movement to systematically challenge mass incarceration in the United States." 
  • Color of Change.org also has a Take Action form that you can fill out to communicate to the FCC your support of fair pricing in prison phone calls:  http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/endprisonphonerates

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