CWA, civil rights coalition urge FCC to continue prison phone reform

Last year the FCC approved measures to reform inmate calling services to ensure that rates are “just, reasonable, and fair.” Those reforms capped all inmate calling rates – a 15-minute call can cost no more than $1.65 – and limited or banned ancillary service charges, which can add nearly 40% to the cost of a single call.

 

Now a coalition of civil rights and public interest groups are urging the FCC to build on these important changes. In a letter to the FCC, the coalition explained the importance of fair inmate communications services and offered specific suggestions.

 

“Communications is a tool that is often essential to vindicate other civil and human rights,” the letter read. “Without information about what is occurring to people in prison, jail, or detention centers, their friends and family members cannot safeguard their rights, such as a right to physical safety or just adjudication.”


The coalition offered five specific reform suggestions to:


1)      Address pricing abuses in advanced communications and video visitation;

2)      Cap international calling rates;

3)      Address the communications rights of deaf, hard of hearing, and disabled inmates;

4)      Ensure the limits on ancillary fees are effective for all communications; and

5)      Collect data in the prison communications industry.


The coalition includes the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the National Consumer Law Center, the AFL-CIO, and CWA, which has long supported prison phone reform.

53 Civil Rights and Public Interest Groups Urge FCC to Advance Human Rights in Prisons (LCCHR, Feb. 10, 2016)

 

CWA signs on to fight against exorbitant prison phone rates (Speed Matters, Jan. 14, 2015)

 

FCC: Prison phone rates must be “just, reasonable, and fair” (Speed Matters, Oct. 13, 2015)

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