Apr 23 2020

Prison phone

(Last Updated On: 15/04/2020)

<a title="Prison phone" href="">Prison phone</a>-<a title="Prison phone" href="">Prison phone</a>
Reports and resources on harm and dysfunction in the monopolistic prison phone industry.

Regulating the prison phone industry

–>Some children have to pay $1/minute to talk to an incarcerated parent. Why? Because prisons and jails profit by granting monopoly telephone contracts to the company that will charge families the most. –> For almost twenty years, families had been calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide relief from the exorbitant bills that the prison phone companies charge just to stay in touch. Recognizing yet another way that mass incarceration punishes entire communities, the Prison Policy Initiative joined with partners across the country to help generate the research and advocacy that was necessary for change. We’ve won some real victories at the FCC lowering rates and halting industry consolidation, we’re pushing for states to take action, and we’re keeping this industry and the perverse incentives it offers the sheriffs in the news.

Newest report:

State of Phone Justice:
Local jails, state prisons and private phone providers

by Peter Wagner and Alexi Jones
February 11, 2019

As of November 2018, in more than half of states, the highest in-state 15 minute call costs more than $10, and in 15 states it costs over $15. (Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont do not have jails and are therefore not displayed).

As of November 2018, in most states, the average in state call from jail costs more than $5. Many states with the lowest averages, such as New Mexico, Georgia, and Alabama, have laws and regulations that limit the cost of jail calls. Meanwhile, states like Arkansas that do not have laws or regulations capping the cost have average costs as high as $14.49 for 15 mninutes.

As of November 2018, in most states, phone calls from jails are much more expensive than phone calls from prison. In 13 states, jails calls are at least 5 times more expensive.

Older reports and FCC briefings

Please Deposit All of Your Money:
Kickbacks, Rates, and Hidden Fees in the Jail Phone Industry

by Drew Kukorowski, Peter Wagner and Leah Sakala
May 8, 2013

The Price To Call Home: State-Sanctioned Monopolization In The Prison Phone Industry
by Drew Kukorowski, September 11, 2012

FCC briefings:

  • Ownership interests and single call loophole, March 10, 2016
  • Video visitation, February 8, 2016
  • FCC has jurisdiction over electronic messaging/email, February 8, 2016
  • Closing the “Single Call” loophole, January 19, 2016
  • Closing the Western Union and MoneyGram loophole, January 19, 2016
  • Closing the “bundling unrelated services” loophole, January 19, 2016
  • V />Aleks Kajstura’s presentation at the FCC’s July 9, 2014 Workshop on Further Reform of Inmate Calling Services
  • Correctional facility type and phone regulation, January 13, 2014
  • Third party fees in the prison phone market (about money transfer services like WesternUnion and MoneyGram), January 13, 2014
  • Video visitation and email services, December 23, 2013
  • The multiple incarnations of kickbacks that prison phone companies give to prisons and jails, August 1, 2013
  • The difference between prisons and jails, July 17, 2013
  • Since ‘Please Deposit All of Your Money’ some small companies have lowered their fees and improved policies, while other companies have been discovered to have charges and policies even worse than previously understood, July 17, 2013
  • Peter Wagner’s presentation at the FCC’s July 11, 2013 Workshop on Reforming Inmate Calling Services

Our work in Iowa

We’re asking the Iowa Utilities Board to reject unreasonable rates and fees proposed by six companies. For more information, see:
  • Our July 8, 2019 comment letter urging the IUB to collect commission data and suggesting how the IUB can reign in consumer abuse.
  • Our May 13, 2019 comment letter with our detailed review of the tariffs and our proposals
  • Our press release, April 26, 2019
  • The dockets for Reliance, Prodigy, Securus, Legacy, Global Tel*Link, and Public Communications Services.
  • Press coverage in The Des Moines Register and The Gazette.
  • Contracts and commission reports from select Iowa counties

Our work in the news

  • Why are calls from Iowa jails among the most costly in US? State utilities board wants to know, by Lee Rood, Des Moines Register, June 2, 2019
  • Is the cost of county jail calls highway robbery?, by Erin Jordan, The Gazette, May 31, 2019
  • How Private Equity Is Turning Public Prisons into Big Profits, by Tim Requarth, The Nation, April 30, 2019
  • With captive customers, Utah jails charge vastly different rates for phone calls from loved ones. They can be more than $10 for 15 minutes, by Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune, April 28, 2019
  • Inmate calling services companies drop merger b />Private companies profit from pay-to-play phone calls in US prisons, Lindsay France, RT, August 13, 2015
  • Private Tech Firms Securus, GTL Offer Jails Million-Dollar Payments, Tablet Computers For Exclusive Phone Contracts, by Eric Markowitz, International Business Times, July 10, 2015
  • Inside the Shadowy Business of Prison Phone Calls, by Eric Markowitz, International Business Times, July 2, 2015
  • Phone rates for prison inmates exploitative, counterproductive, Editorial Board, The Boston Globe,
    April 28, 2015
  • Steep Costs of Inmate Phone Calls Are Under Scrutiny, by Timothy Williams, The New York Times, March 30, 2015
  • Reach Out and Pay Someone, by Dirk VanderHart, The Portland Mercury, March 4, 2015
  • Exploiting Inmates, by Sukey Lewis, East Bay Express, February 4, 2015
  • Serial’s $2,500 Phone Bill and the Prison-Calling Racket, by Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg Businessweek,
    December 17, 2014
  • Jail contractor calls for end to free local phone calls, by Dermot Cole, Alaska Dispatch News, December 13, 2014
  • The FCC Looks into the Prison Telephone Racket, by Beth Schwartzapfel, The Marshall Project, December 4, 2014
  • Captive Audience: Counties and Private Businesses Cash in on V />

Our blog posts on phone justice:

Some of the highlights from the phones section of our blog:


Prison phone


USA News. American News.

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