State lowers rate to $0.17/minute

As of March 4, 2014 the New Jersey Department of Corrections extended its contract for prison phone services with Global Tel*Link for an additional six months (until September 3, 2014). It also lowered the rate for all phone calls to 17 cents per minute during that period. This decrease is great news, but the rate should go even lower! At the same time, intrastate rates and commissions in county jails remain high.

The contract extension is available here.

New Jersey Advocates Look Forward to Decrease in Prison Phone Rates


For Immediate Release

January 14, 2014

Contact: Karina Wilkinson, NJAID, [email protected]

Alix Nguefack, AFSC, (973) 854-0401

New Jersey Advocates Look Forward to Decrease in Prison Phone Rates

Newark, NJ – The New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees (NJAID) applaud Monday’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to allow the implementation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Order capping interstate rates from prisons and jails to go forward. Beginning on February 11, 2014, the Order will limit rates on calls between states to $3.15 for a fifteen-minute debit call and $3.75 for a fifteen-minute collect call. The Court granted phone companies’ motion to delay several provisions of the Order, including provisions requiring prison phone rates to be cost-based and setting presumptively fair “safe harbor” rates. The New Jersey Advocates anticipate that upon review the Court will uphold these provisions, along with the rest of the Order.

“The implementation of hard caps on interstate prison phone rates will provide much-needed relief to immigrant detainees and other incarcerated people, along with their families,” said Karina Wilkinson, Co-Founder of the Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights, a member group of the New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees. “Currently, New Jersey state correctional facilities and county jails charge rates that exceed the FCC maximum, with some reaching over $15 for a fifteen-minute call.”

Bergen and Hudson Counties detain hundreds of immigrants who are in the custody of the New York office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Affordable phone calls to their lawyers and families in New York make detainees more likely to win their cases and better able to re-integrate into their community upon return,” said Roberto Concepción, Associate Counsel at Latino Justice PRLDEF.

Nonetheless, phone rates within New Jersey remain unregulated. After the Order goes into effect calls from New Jersey prisons and jails other than local calls will be more expensive than calls to other states. “New Jersey should follow the FCC’s lead,” said Alix Nguefack, Detention Project Coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program in Newark. “The state Board of Public Utilities or the legislature should cap intrastate rates so that they do not go above interstate rates.”

NJAID advocates to end immigration detention and for improved conditions for those in detention, including lower phone rates for immigrants held in New Jersey. For more information about NJAID and to read our comments on the FCC’s Order, visit

Court Grants Partial Stay of FCC Order, Hard Caps Go Into Effect Feb. 11

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted a partial stay of the Federal Communications Commisson (FCC)’s Order regulating interstate prison and jail phone rates. That means that sections of the Order requiring that rates be cost-based, setting presumptively fair “safe harbor rates,” and imposing reporting requirements on companies will not go into effect until the Court rules on them. However, the part of the Order that caps interstate rates at 21 cents per minute for debit calls and 25 cents per minute for collect calls remains intact. All New Jersey prisons and jails will have to lower their rates to comply with those caps by February 11, 2014.

Read the partial stay here.