FCC proposes end to inmate phone gouging

After years of lobbying by civil rights and community groups, the FCC has agreed to open a proceeding in response to petitions asking to "secure the 'just and reasonable' interstate rates for prisoners required by Section 201(b) of the Communications Act."

For decades state and federal governments have allowed the imposition of exorbitant and predatory pricing on the incarcerated and their families - a clear violation of civil rights, as well as a miscarriage of justice. This notice of proposed rulemaking marks another step towards a price cap.

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said on December 28:

"... Until the FCC takes the next step to adopt a rule, families will be bearing the burden of predatory phone rates, which is particularly difficult during the holiday season. Today's step is the result of a combined effort of families around the country, progressives, conservatives, and Washington advocates, along with the dedicated leadership within the FCC."

The United Church of Christ's media project, OC Inc., has also worked to reverse the gouging families of prisoners. Cheryl Leanza, OC Inc.'s policy advisor said:

"Next, family members and advocates around the country must make their voices heard loud and clear in Washington - and we hope that the final rule must be adopted with great speed. We will likely see the companies and prison systems which benefit from this rule begin to fight back. All people of faith must stand firm so that we can prevail."

In the Matter of Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services (FCC, Dec. 28, 2012)

A Step Closer to Just Prison Phone Rates
(OC Inc., United Church of Christ, Dec. 28, 2012)