FCC Begins Oversight on Inmate Communications

Not too long ago prisons and jails across the country had the freedom to set rates on phone calls and other communication between inmates and the outside world. Some claimed this to be an egregious attack on typically financially poorer families who were unable to visit their incarcerated loved ones.

 

The FCC, or Federal Communication Commission began to investigate the claims raised by those families affected by the increasingly hiked rates governed by federal prisons and jails. The FCC found the inmates typically could only make collect calls, which meant their families or loved ones had to cover the costs. Since the prisons were left unchecked on who they used as a carrier, this left those footing the bill with a very hefty bill.

 

In August of 2016, the FCC made their most recent action in a step to limit the rise of inmate calls. They set a rate cap on inmate calls that should substantially decrease how much those calls cost.

 

Communication companies such as Securus Technologies and Legacy Inmate Communication have stated that they feel the FCC has overstepped its bounds and limited the free market. Those companies will feel the impact levied by the FCC. Their response has been vocally pointed toward history that the FCC has never intervened in communication processes such as this, and in this case, the FCC does not have the authority to intervene.

 

With the new rate cap set in August of 2016, inmates can expect to see more reasonable costs associated when calling friends and families. With the rate cap enacted, phone calls can be made without exceeding the cap. With the oversight of the FCC toward federal communications, local states still have the right to oversee intrastate calls. Though the FCC has made a step in the right direction, not all inmates will be immune to high priced calls.