How Prison Phone Call Rates Are Going Up, Despite Caps Made By The FCC

Until last fall, families in the US have had to pay as much as $1 per minute to talk to their loved ones in prison. Seeing this rate as unjust, the Federal Communications Commission stepped in to regulate much of the prison calling industry. But despite this action, families were surprised to notice this June that their call rates have actually gone up since.

Before the FCC began regulating private prison calling firms, the high price of $1 a minute was largely due to monopoly contracts, revenue-sharing deals with local sheriffs, and little oversight. When the decision was made to lower these rates, rate caps were placed on interstate calls only. So in order to compensate for this loss in revenue, private firms like Securus Technologies raised their in-state calls by as much as 52%. For an example, at a jail in Holdenville Colorado, the price for a call went up from $4.03 to $5.75 in only 24 hours.

This change caused much disparity for the families of prisoners, many of which struggle to manage their own finances. Take 63-year-old Connie Pratt for an example. Her son is incarcerated in North California and suffers from severe anxiety. Connie’s regular calls with him help his mental health, but she’s worried that she might not be able to keep them up since, for the calls, she nows spends $200 a month of her $900 monthly disability check she receives as her only source of income.

Inmate advocacy groups have complained about this issue but have only been met with corporate reasonings like this one from Securus Technologies’ CEO Rick Smith: “the lower rates that were highly publicized never went into effect because the FCC failed to do their job and tried to set rates below our cost”.

Original Source: http://www.ibtimes.com/why-prison-phone-rates-keep-going-even-though-fcc-regulated-them-2388200