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Today, the Federal Communications Commission issued an Order limiting the inmate calling service rates that can be charged for calls to and from prisons and jails in the United States. The Order finds the monopoly rates charged by providers “unjust and unreasonable.” As those incarcerated generally must call collect, the high cost of these monopoly charges generally fall on the families of the incarcerated. The FCC Order establishes a cap on the costs that telephone providers can charge, enabling families of the incarcerated to remain in contact with their loved ones -- a factor numerous studies have shown helps prevent recidivism.
Public Knowledge commends the FCC for its support of American families and Commissioner Clyburn for her leadership to ensure that inmates can maintain their closest relationships.
The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“Congress created the FCC in part to protect all Americans -- particularly the poor and the vulnerable -- from the power of abusive telecommunications monopolies. For 15 years, families of those held in our overflowing prisons have been subjected to punishingly high rates from monopoly phone providers. This policy benefits no one but the monopoly providers, often forcing poverty-stricken families to choose between paying their bills or staying in touch with their loved ones.
”Today’s FCC Order caps a 15-year effort involving hundreds of organizations and thousands of activists. It testifies to the power of the people to demand -- and achieve -- social justice. It testifies to the power of government and federal agencies to protect the vulnerable. We commend the FCC for completing this proceeding in the face of lawsuits and political pressure from those who profit from these abusive prison phone rates. In particular, we commend Commissioner Clyburn’s undaunted courage and determination to bring this process to a close and bring relief to the families of the millions of Americans currently incarcerated.”