The outcry against the telephone companies that control the state prison phone industry is now focused on the county jail phone industry. In both cases, the inmate’s families suffer excessive fees for maintaining contact with their family member who is incarcerated. The prison gives an exclusive contract a telephone company which charges outrageous fees. The prison receives a portion of the high charges from the telephone company. You can read more information about the monopolization of the prison phone industry on Prison Policy’s site.
Last month, PrisonPath.com posted an article about “Exorbitant Prison Phone Rates Saga Continues.” The article reported about about the complaint filed by Martha Wright in 2003. Ms.Wright was paying $200 a month for one 15 minute call every week to her grandson. Since the initial complaint, thousands of complaints were filed by inmate’s families with the FCC. The FCC announced recently that it is examining this problem and is taking public comments about high price prison telephone calls. While the FCC continues its process, inmates families continue to suffer.
Prisonpath.com received the following comment about gouging prison telephone charges,
Submitted on 2013/02/03 at 2:45 pm
it is hard to be respectful about the call system for the inmates. you are dealing with high risk population most the time, mental illness, poor, and yet you charge the visitors to call their loved ones. I believe this to be a criminal act in itself by the state of WV. I read where you are trying to build esteem, train, and build community ties to help deter re-imprisonment, yet you have this horrible phone call system most people can’t afford. most people have unlimited long distance calling now. the jail could easily do the same. this is a uncivilized act of WV against its citizens.
In fairness, the telephone companies involved are not the telephone companies known to all. The two main telephone companies involved in prison telephone calls are Securus Technologies Inc.and Global Tel Link. On the average, the two companies are charging $15 for a 15 minute call. This present system harms the families of inmates. This predatory system adversely affects the communications between families and their loved ones. Telephone calls are one of the primary links between families and their loved one who is incarcerated. Studies have shown that a strong family support system is essential to decreasing recidivism. We can only hope that the FCC implements long needed change.