On June 26, 2014 the New York Times published a great article about the incredibly high and unjust prison phone and money transfer rates for inmates.
As we know, several companies have monopoly over the prison phone market, and charge outrageous rates for inmates to keep in touch. These licensed providers get contracts with state and prison authorities, paying high commissions and fees for such contracts. The companies justify their exaggerated rates saying they are in part due to the high fees they are paying to the state and prison authorities for getting contracts and being allowed to operate.
Therefore, many inmates file lawsuits against big companies. And while earlier this year, the FCC set a limit for interstate telephone rates (25 cents a minute), still the companies manage to get a lot of money through fees and taxes, and the rates vary widely from state to state.
The NYT gives the example of a 15 minute in-state call in New York state, which doesn’t accept commissions from providers, as being 72 cents, while the same call costs over 8$ in New Jersey, which still has the commission system.
Big companies like Securus, Global Tel-Link, CenturyLink, and the corrections departments in Arizona, Mississippi and South Dakota, have challenged the FCC rules in court, providing justifications for their high rates: security concerns. As the NYT explains “the companies say they need to charge high rates for security concerns — inmates’ access to financial services, telephones and the Internet is limited and, in most cases, monitored by providers.”
Given the amount of publicity this issue is getting recently, do you think inmates will get better rates and fair treatment when it comes to communication?
Image from NYT