SAY NO TO TELEPHONE GREED The prison and jail telephone industry wants to charge the children of incarcerated people $1 per minute for simple phone calls. We are fighting back.

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Regulating the prison phone industry

Some children have to pay $1/minute to talk to an incarcerated parent. Why? Because prisons and jails profit by granting monopoly telephone contracts to the company that will charge families the most.

For almost twenty years, families had been calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide relief from the exorbitant bills that the prison phone companies charge just to stay in touch. Recognizing yet another way that mass incarceration punishes entire communities, the Prison Policy Initiative joined with partners across the country to help generate the research and advocacy that was necessary for change.

We’ve won some real victories at the FCC lowering rates and halting industry consolidation, we’re pushing for states to take action, and we’re keeping this industry and the perverse incentives it offers the sheriffs in the news.

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Map showing the highest cost for a 15 minute in-state call home from a jail in 44 states in 2018. In Alabama, the most expensive call would be $4.20, and in Michigan that call would cost $22.56. As of November 2018, in more than half of states, the highest in-state 15 minute call costs more than $10, and in 15 states it costs over $15. (Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont do not have jails and are therefore not displayed).

Map showing the average cost for a 15 minute in-state call home from a jail in 44 states in 2018. In West Virginia, the average call would be $1.56, and in North Dakota that call would cost $17.35.As of November 2018, in most states, the average in state call from jail costs more than $5. Many states with the lowest averages, such as New Mexico, Georgia, and Alabama, have laws and regulations that limit the cost of jail calls. Meanwhile, states like Arkansas that do not have laws or regulations capping the cost have average costs as high as $14.49 for 15 mninutes.

Map showing how many times higher a 15 minute in-state phone call home from a jail would be than the average cost of a call from a jail in that state. 44 states that have independent jails are shown. In Alabama and Georgia, jails are only 10% more expensive than the state prison, but in Illinois, jails are almost 53 times as expensive.As of November 2018, in most states, phone calls from jails are much more expensive than phone calls from prison. In 13 states, jails calls are at least 5 times more expensive.

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See our older reports and FCC briefings

Older reports and FCC briefings

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