FCC Wants To Regulate Prison Phone Industry
6 months ago
Prisoners and their families are paying $17 for 15 minute phone calls.
The Federal Communications Commission has decided to take on a new fight. Prison phone calls.
Talking on the phone with a loved one behind bars can cost as much as $17 for 15 minutes, reaping big time profits for phone companies who run the systems prisons use. After complaints about price gouging, the FCC has announced that they plan to draft up some regulations.
Think Progess reports:
Exorbitant calling rates make the prison telephone industry one of the most lucrative businesses in the United States today. This industry is so profitable because prison phone companies have state-sanctioned monopolistic control over the state prison markets, and the government agency with authority to rein in these rates across the nation has been reluctant to offer meaningful relief.
Prison phone companies are awarded these monopolies through bidding processes in which they submit contract proposals to the state prison systems; in all but eight states, these contracts include promises to pay “commissions” — in effect, kickbacks — to states, in either the form of a percentage of revenue, a fixed up-front payment, or a combination of the two. Thus, state prison systems have no incentive to select the telephone company that offers the lowest rates; rather, correctional departments have an incentive to reap the most profit by selecting the telephone company that provides the highest commission.
"These issues affect the families of inmates, prisoner rehabilitation, as well as prison security," a FCC spokesman said to TheHill.com