By CultureBanx Team
- To regulate the prison phone call rates Congress has passed the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2022
- The $1.4B prison phone industry has been exploiting inmates and their loved ones who hail from poorer households, by charging $25 for a 15-minute call
High priced prison phone calls could finally be coming to an end as the Federal Communications Commission is set to regulate the rates. The $1.4 billion prison phone industry has been exploiting inmates and their loved ones who hail from poorer households, by charging $25 for a 15-minute call. When you add this with all the other fees associated with these calls, including setting up and adding funds to required prepaid accounts, government intervention is desperately needed.
Why This Matters: The Sentencing Project found that 1 out of every 3 Black boys born today can expect to be sentenced to prison, compared to 1 out of every 6 Latino boys, and 1 out of 17 white boys. It’s easy to see the huge disparity along with the importance of congress passing the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2022.
Historically, the FCC has limited the cost of cross-state phone calls to 21 cents per minute for prepaid calls. Problem is, 80% of these calls are made in-state. With the passing of this bill it will be able to cap in-state prices. U.S. jails and prisons house more than 2.2 million people, and in 2017, Black people represented 33% of the sentenced prison population, and just 12% of the U.S. adult population. The Ella Baker Center, over a third of paying families go into debt over the calls.
“Too many families of incarcerated people must pay outrageous rates to stay connected with their loved ones. This harms the families and children of the incarcerated—and it harms all of us because regular contact with kin can reduce recidivism,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
Platinum Equity, the California-based buyout firm run by Detroit Pistons’ owner Tom Gores, acquired Securus, a leading prison phone communications company, in 2017 for $1.6 billion. Along with GTL, Securus controls more than 70% of the market for prison calls, gained by adding consumers fees and extra phone services into phone contracts with jails.
What’s Next: Unfortunately, there are still 4,100 corporations that profit from the country’s prisons and jails, according to advocacy group Worth Rises. The Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications act now just needs President Biden’s signature.
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