Families of Hampden County, Massachusetts inmates don’t have to strain their budgets anymore to stay in contact with their loved ones, thanks to the FCC. A 15 minute call used to cost $17, now inmates can talk for 30 minutes for only $3.60. GlobalTel Link, the inmate telephone service provider, was paying the jail a 74 percent commission on the cost of each call, which amounted to approximately $89,000 per month in the jail’s coffers according to an article posted on MassLive.com.
Sheriff Michael J. Ashe Jr., who runs the jail, was not happy with the FCC’s ruling; he even went so far as to threaten to eliminate the inmate’s telephone service. Responding to a MassLive inquiry, the communications officer for the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department said that it costs the department $165,487 per year in administrative costs to maintain telephone services for inmates and the remainder of the money from commissions is used to fund various programs for inmates. Critics, however, cite the bloated Hamden County Sheriff’s Department large, 27-person administrative staff, each of whom earns a six-figure salary, as the reason the Sheriff needed the commissions from GlobalTel Link.
Inmates still have access to telephones to contact their families, however, there is no word yet if the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department will maintain the programs that that were funded by the high commissions.