Last year, people in Connecticut prisons paid $13.2 million for phone calls, 60% of which the private phone company then paid back to the state as a kickback. I wrote about the new bill trying to change that & make phone calls free for incarcerated people.
The prison phone industry has grown into a $1.2 billion business and these private phone companies give huge kickbacks to states & municipalities across the country. There’s little incentive for states to reform a system that pays them millions of dollars to do business.
Decades of research shows that allowing incarcerated people to stay in touch with their family is one of the most important ways to ensure successful reentry. But private phone companies wield an enormous amount of power and often prevent legislatures from changing the system.
Who pays the cost to society when we incarcerate for no good reason (broken tail light, backpack lifted??, school fight, MJ joint in pocket, couldn’t make bail) & turn an innocent into a hardened criminal or PTSD paranoia for life? Free phone calls to family is not a big ask.
You are right that I have very little idea of who gets incarcerated. I do believe the statistics that poor people & POC are incarcerated at a far higher rate than wealthy people or whites & an unknown# are innocent. Charging them for phoning their family makes no sense to me.
I’ve worked with getting ex-cons back into society- trust me, a large percent of the calls these guys are making are not to family. They are to bookies, drug runners, and gang members on the outside. Our prison and justice system needs major overhaul- but phone calls?
Incarceration for non-violent offenses, is criminal in itself, to me. Other countries have far lower rates of incarceration because they don’t use prison systems this way. Prison is NOT a correctional, or deterrent behavior option- and should be reserved only for violent crime.
Kickbacks, and exorbitant rates for collect calls are certainly an obscene policy that needs to be addressed. But I pay every month for phone calls/service- why should an inmate be given free phone service at tax payer expense- because I should pay for them to call a bookie?
I would agree with you if: 1) prison phone calls cost the same as yours 2) prisoners could earn real $ for the work they do Eg.: Conn. charges $5 for a 15-min collect call, which is 32x more than ILL, which charges 14c for 15 min