FCC Seeks to Reform Broken Prison and Jail Telephone Industry, Advocates Support

WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 21, 2015 – It looks like the more than 100,000 Americans that signed petitions in the last six months urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to further reform the high cost of calls from prison may finally get their wish.

On Thursday, October 22, at 10:30 am ET, the FCC will vote on proposed rules initiated by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn that would, according to an article authored by the Prison Policy Institute and this infographic courtesy of the Center for Media Justice, cap prison phone rates and eliminate expensive fees that prevent many families from connecting with their incarcerated loved ones. A fact sheet reports that some families are charged as much as $17 for a 15-minute conversation. According to a report released last week by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Forward Together, one in three families go into debt because of the high cost of maintaining contact with incarcerated family members.

“All too often, those inside the beltway get caught up in numbers and graphs instead of focusing on the faces and lives of real people who depend on us for relief. This is one reason why loved ones and attorneys seeking to maintain a connection to family members, friends, and clients who are in jails and prisons have remained crushed by the weight of an unjust and unreasonable telephone rates. Today, I am pleased to welcome to Washington some tireless champions for phone justice who are giving voice to the incarcerated and their families whose cries for relief have been ignored for more than a decade,” said Commissioner Clyburn at a recent congressional briefing on the issue.

Directly prior to the vote, at 9:30am, the Media Action Grassroots Network—a co-convener of the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice that represents family members with incarcerated loved ones—will host a press conference to hear from community members directly impacted by this historic vote, and for legal analysis of the proposed rules.

Press Conference participants and other sources can be found here.


The Media Action Grassroots Network (MAGNet) is a project of the Center for Media Justice, a 501c3 organization. With over 175 affiliate members nationwide, MAGNet is the only racial justice network exclusively focused on media rights, access and representation in the United States.