PA Contracts for Low Phone Rates and Keeps Commission

A new contract between the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the phone company Securus lowers the rates for calls from state prisons to $0.059 per minute. Meanwhile, Securus will pay Pennsylvania a commission of 35%. This means that – despite what the companies have said – a low rate of under $0.06 per minute is enough for Securus to make profit for themselves and pay the state.

Our letter to the FCC about this important evidence in support of a low rate cap is here.

Congressman Pallone Voices Support for Phone Justice

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District wrote to the FCC to voice support for its proposal to reform correctional facility phone rates and eliminate commissions from phone companies to prisons and jails. Congressman Pallone sits on the Communications Subcommittee in the House, and in January will become the Ranking Member of the entire Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees many federal agencies including the FCC. He wrote:

“Inmates should be able to remain in contact with their families through more affordable and competitive means . . . I applaud the FCC for its commitment to reforming these policies that too often disproportionately affect detainees with minimal financial resources.”

Read the full letter here. You can join Congressman Pallone by submitting your comments in support of reform to the FCC – just fill out this form!

State Lowers Phone Rates to 15 Cents/Minute

In the wake of the FCC’s order capping interstate rates, the New Jersey State Department of Corrections has repeatedly lowered all the rates from state prisons. Most recently, a three-month contract extension lowered the rates to 15 cents per minute. Read the contract extension here.

These lower rates show that without paying commissions, companies can afford to charge families less. We look forward to further decreases in the rates at state facilities, and to parallel decreases at county facilities.

ACLU Supports BPU Petition

The ACLU of New Jersey joined the New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in Trenton on April 30 when we filed our petition asking the Board of Public Utilities to cap the cost of calls from prisons and jails in New Jersey.

Read the ACLU’s letter of support to the Board of Public Utilities.

Bergen Record Reports New Rates and Upcoming Negotiations

The Bergen Record reported today on the impact of the FCC’s Order lowering interstate phone rates from New Jersey prisons and county jails. The Record reports that Global Tel*Link offered Bergen County the opportunity to negotiate increases on other rates and fees to make up for the losses on interstate calls. The story featured quotes from Karina Wilkinson and Pauline Ndzie, members of the campaign for prison phone justice, and emphasized the hardship caused by exorbitant phone rates. Read the full article here.