U.S. to Eliminate Exorbitant Cost of Prison Phone Calls With New Law

A new U.S. law that will allow the Federal Communications Commission to regulate prison phone calls needs only President Biden’s signature to put an end to a largely unknown, yet famously predatory, prison practice.

Telecom companies that specialize in providing phone service for inmates have long made the process of signing up for their service and placing calls as expensive as possible, with a nationwide average of about $3 per call.

The telecom fees are often too great for inmates to be able to afford regular calls to loved ones or lawyers—and too costly for families to keep in touch with those behind bars.

Private prisons have profited by granting monopoly telephone contracts to the company that will charge families the most.

The Martha Wright-Reed Act, as the legislation will be called, gives the FCC the authority to “ensure just and reasonable charges for telephone and advanced communications services in correctional and detention facilities.”

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“The FCC has for years moved aggressively to address this terrible problem, but we have been limited in the extent to which we can address rates for calls made within a state’s borders,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel says in a statement.

President Biden is expected to sign the Democrat-sponsored legislation, which passed both the House and Senate, and will include both video and phone calls.

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