FCC Comment Period Deadline: Monday, Jan 12, 5pm; NJAID & NYU IRC Comments Filed

As the FCC Comment Period comes to a close on Monday, January 12 at 5pm, NJAID and NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic submitted the comments below, calling for a cap on intrastate prison and jail phone rates, a ban on commissions and ancillary fees. Our recent findings include outrageous international calling rates at the three NJ county jails that house immigrant detainees, including $45 for a 15 minute call at Hudson County jail. By contrast, Elizabeth Detention Center charges $2.25 for a 15 minute call to an international landline. Get the details and more in our comments below.

Final FCC Comment Docket 12-375 by NJAID and NYU IRC

Reply comments can be sent through January 27th.

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!

FCC Comment Period on Regulating High In-State Telephone Rates is Opening

Are you concerned about the harm that high in-state telephone rates cause to families with incarcerated or detained loved ones in NJ and across the US? The FCC just published their latest notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register, seeking public comments by January 5, 2015.  See Media Action Grassroots Network national press release, with a quote from Karina Wilkinson here.

Learn more about the problems associated with high in-state telephone rates by checking out our Facts page.  Send in your comments online by filling out this form.


FCC Moves to Regulate In-State Prison and Jail Phone Rates

The FCC voted today to issue a “Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” a move to regulate in-state prison and jail calling rates. Once the Notice is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 45 day period set up for the public to comment on the exorbitant rates that continue, especially in New Jersey’s county jails.

Commissioner Clyburn and Wheeler’s press release with more detail is here, and Senator Booker’s statement of support is here.

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.