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Today, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) introduced the Video Visitation and Inmate Calling in Prisons Act of 2017, which would clarify the Federal Communications Commission’s authority to cap intrastate inmate calling rates. The bill requires the agency to establish rules governing the procurement and use of video visitation and inmate calling services to make sure rates are “reasonable, fair and just”. Public Knowledge supports open and affordable access to communications for everyone, including prison inmates and their families.
The following can be attributed to Yosef Getachew, Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge:
“The FCC has a duty to protect all Americans -- particularly our most vulnerable communities -- from unjust and unreasonable phone rates. For too long, monopoly telecommunications providers have charged families astronomically high rates to contact their loved ones in prison. The Commission took action in 2015 to cap unreasonable interstate and intrastate prison phone rates. By refusing to defend the Commission’s intrastate rules in court, Chairman Pai abandoned the families of incarcerated Americans who could not afford to contact their loved ones.
“Senator Duckworth’s bill grants the Commission clear authority to regulate intrastate calling rates and gives the agency a direct framework for taking action. Without clear rules in place capping intrastate rates, families will continue to bear the high burden of staying connected with loved ones serving prison sentences. We commend Senator Duckworth for introducing this bill and look forward to working with all members of Congress on this issue.”