Prison phone companies shouldn’t be able to profit off families

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UPDATE Dec. 20, 2013: We submitted over 30,000 signatures to the FCC urging them to cap phone rates for prisoners and their families. Thanks to everyone who signed, and stay tuned for next steps!


Today, 2.7 million children have a parent behind bars. For these kids, losing a parent to incarceration can be as traumatic as losing a parent to death or divorce.(1) Prisoners are often housed hundreds of miles from their families, making phone the only way to connect on a routine basis.

But for-profit prison phone companies like Global Tel*Link have gotten away with charging sky-high rates to prisoners and their families, making it too expensive for families to stay connected. Prisoners are charged up to $17 for a 15-minute phone call—a call that might cost $2 outside of prison.

Phone companies shouldn’t be able to profit off prisoners trying to be good parents and good family members. Steep prices mean many prisoners won't be able to call home as often, and that's bad for public safety—when prisoners keep in touch with their families, they are less likely to reoffend and wind up back behind bars.(2)

The Federal Communications Commission took an important first step in August by capping the price of prisoner phone calls made from one state to another at 25 cents per minute. But most prisoners are serving time in their home state. Tell the FCC to finish the job and end this predatory practice for all prison phone calls.

Sign the petition urging the Federal Communications Commission to cap in-state prison phone rates at a fair price.

 

Sources

1. Hagan, John, and Ronit Dinovitzer. 1999. “Collateral Consequences of Imprisonment for Children, Communities, and Prisoners.” Crime and Justice 26. http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411616_incarcerated_parents.pdf

2. Travis, McBride, and Solomon. 2003. “Families Left Behind: The Hidden Costs of Incarceration and Reentry.” The Urban Institute. http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/310882_families_left_behind.pdf.

To the Federal Communications Commission:

For far too long, prison phone companies have gotten away with charging sky-high rates to prisoners and their families. Capping state-to-state phone calls was a start, but most prisoners are serving time in their home state.

When prisoners keep in touch with their families, they are less likely to reoffend later and kids are better off. It’s time to cap in-state prison phone rates at a price families can afford.

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