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FCC "Continues Push to Rein In High Costs of Inmate Calling," Asks for Public Comment
Washington DC - The Federal Communications Commission announced today that it will consider next steps “toward reining in the high cost” of making phone calls to and from America’s prisons. Commissioners seek public comments on what they call a "comprehensive, market-based approach" to cap costs. Advocates from the Media Action Grassroots Network and the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice are urging that the commission "go all the way" and ensure all communications from prisons are affordable for the millions of families with incarcerated loved ones. The FCC will consider capping rates for all calls from prison, correctional facilities and detention centers; eliminating fees and ancillary charges; reforms for video calls and disabilities access.
Last year’s initial reforms enacted by the FCC were the result of successful advocacy efforts by the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, alongside civil rights and criminal justice allies, which helped provide much needed financial relief for families receiving out-of-state phone calls from correctional facilities.
The FCC's statement is available at http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-continues-push-rein-high-cost-inmate-calling.
Here's what advocates are saying:
"The FCC vote last August was a start to helping my family stay connected. It is as important to me as the air we breath that my kids - all kids - are able to keep contact with their parents , but in our country almost 3 million children are the invisible victims of incarceration.”
Bethany Fraser, a mother of two with an incarcerated loved one.
“As someone who is impacted by the high rates of prison phone calls, I know that in this moment it is important to get the voices millions of families impacted by these costs on the record - the FCC needs the stories, comments and data to go all the way and rein in predatory communications fees.”
Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice
“It is gratifying after all these years to see the FCC continuing the push to eliminate the exorbitant rates and fees that prisoners’ families must pay to stay in touch during times of incarceration. The FCC took the critical first step when it capped interstate prison phone rates last year, but intrastate (in-state) rates represent 85% of calls made from detention facilities, and the families of prisoners making those calls are also entitled to communications services at just and reasonable rates. We encourage the FCC to take all steps necessary to ensure that inmate calling services are accessible for all prisoners and their families, by ordering permanent rate caps on prison and jail phone calls, eliminating per-call connection fees, prohibiting site commissions, and eliminating ancillary fees that must be paid to maintain inmate calling accounts."
Paul Wright, executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC)
"I am excited to see the FCC move toward more comprehensive reform and end the phone companies' exploitation of families.I am particularly glad to see that the FCC will address the $400 million/year in fees that the industry squeezes out of poor families for having, funding and closing accounts. This money should go to actual phone calls or other important needs, not the industry’s pockets.”
Peter Wagner, executive director of the Prison Policy Initiative