NJAID & NYU IRC and Wright Petitioners File Comments on FCC Commissioner Clyburn’s #Solutions2020 Call to Action Plan

January 11, 2017

Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

RE: #Solutions2020 Comment on Prison Phone and Video Rates by New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees and New York University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, Public Notice #342689

Dear Commissioner Clyburn,

Members of the New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees and New York University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic have commented on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) docket #12-375 and at a New York City listening tour forum you conducted since early 2013. Our first comments addressed interstate phone rates in New Jersey prisons and jails, followed by intrastate phone rates and, finally, international rates. In the current comments, we will update you with information concerning: 1) the recent New Jersey law capping phone rates and banning commissions in the state, 2) changes in phone rates and commissions in two county jails, 3) the closure of two facilities that we previously reported on and the recent surge in immigration detention, and 4) issues related to video visitation.

When we started our New Jersey Phone Justice Campaign, the state prisons charged a 33-cent flat fee for calls, and took a 41% commission. New Jersey county jails were charging even higher rates for non-local calls and taking commissions between 50% and 70%. Today, most facilities in New Jersey are charging 4.384 cents per minute , the rate negotiated in the current five-year state contract, and no commissions.

Read more here.

Read comments from the Wright Petitioners, signed on to by NJAID, here. These comments include extensive information on rates in facilities around the country, and highlight massive disparities in rates around the country, potential violations of the FCC’s Order to eliminate surcharges, and contain a call for costs of systems to detect contraband cellphone use not to be passed on to incarcerated individuals and their families.

Passaic County Cuts Phone Rates

The Passaic County Freeholders voted to cut phone rates for inmate domestic telephone calls to $0.11 per minute, with no commission to the County, ensuring compliance with the new New Jersey statute (P.L. 2016 Chapter 37). The rate will exist on a month-to-month basis until a new contract is implemented. As of June 28, 2016, the rates had been $2.55 for the first minute, 25 cents for additional minutes, and the County was taking a 53% commission.

The resolution, dated December 13, 2016, can be read below.

Passaic Phone Rates Resolution