Why You Should Care About the Price of a Phone Call From Prison

When inmates can't afford phone calls, recidivism rates soar. New legislation will change all that.
Feb 11, 2014· 0 MIN READ
Andrew Freeman is a California native with a degree in history from UCLA. He is particularly interested in politics and policy.

At first blush, prisoners getting overcharged for phone calls might not seem like that big of a deal. After all, if you're not behind bars, it doesn't affect you, right?

Actually, the issue is much more complex than it seems on the surface. Proponents of phone call price caps project the cheaper rates will increase connectivity between families, which in turn reduces recidivism and costs for the American taxpayers by nearly $250 million a year.

And today, a new Federal Communications Commission ruling goes into effect, ending predatory prison phone rates for long-distance calls and outlawing kickbacks to detention facilities across America. The ruling comes on the heels of a 10-year campaign waged by the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice to reconnect families with their incarcerated loved ones.

The FCC will place a rate cap on long-distance calls of 25 cents per minute for collect calls and 21 cents per minute for debit or prepaid calls. That means the average rate of a 15-minute call will be reduced from $17 to $3.15. And that's far from chump change.

Predatory Phone Rates: Local Prison Calls