Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Governor approves expanded prison phone service!

Great news!

Yesterday Governor Rick Perry officially allowed SB 1580 by Van de Putte - which would expand phone access for prisoners confined by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice -to become law without his signature. See the text of the final, passed statute which, because of supermajorities in both chambers has already taken effect. The contract must be awarded by TDCJ no later than September 1, 2008, so perhaps new phone systems might actually be installed by early 2009.

Congratulations to all involved! (See the list of supporters from the House Corrections Committee hearing.) Reps Pat Haggerty (R-El Paso) Jerry Madden (R-Richardson) and Terri Hodge (D-Dallas) carried the bill in the House, and Rep. Hodge in particular has been pushing this idea at the Legislature for many years. She deserves a lot of credit for her persistence and for reaching out to garner bipartisan support for the idea, which was ultimately key to its passage.

See prior, related Grits coverage:

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

For the 1st $10 Million to go to the victims, each of the 165,000 prisoners in Texas would have to spend about $100.00 per year. If I understand this correctly, 40% anything over that amount would go to the general fund. Contract for 7 years - that's quite the contract, over $70 million.

Prisoners loved ones should consider budgeting an extra $25 per month starting in 2008! For that I hope they get more than 5 phone calls!

Anonymous said...

This is much better than having to travel on a regular basis to visit loved ones in prison at the price of gas at present. I would spend $ 100.00 a month on phone calls and still come out ahead .
Last but not least I would like to correct a previous statement made by Grits commending TIFA for their "dogged" persuit of the telephone bill . It was TX CURE which has been around since 1972 and pushed for phones almost all that time. They also were the ones who after a long battle got Contact visits ,last but not least they supply thousands of fans for indigent prisoners . Check the witness list on the phone bill, TIFA is missing , TX CURE testified .

sunray's wench said...

Brilliant!!!!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I'm with you 6:06, it IS quite a contract, and the pricing is exorbitant, but it's the only way the bill could get passed. In that sense it's half a loaf, but it's a way to get the infrastructure installed.

That said, many local jails that have similar profiteering contracts are beginning to reduce their profits at the behest of families. It wouldn't surprise me if either a) the statutory allocation to victims was reduced in future sessions, or b) if the profiteering aspect is reduced or eliminated seven years down the line when it's time for contract renewal.

Sorry to have neglected mentioning CURE - I haven't been up to the capitol as much this year, and the last three sessions TIFA was pretty involved with this issue. best,

billt said...

woo-hoo! this is great.

Anonymous said...

Finally, thanks to Rep. Jerry Madden and Senator Whitmire some sense is finally being restored to our prison system.

These Inmates are people and they may be serving time for a mistake, but they are not there to be bullied and abused by the guards who work for TDCJ.

With phones installed now maybe some of this abuse will come out sooner and something can be done to stop the abuse.

Thanks to all those who supported this bill and those who stood up for what is right.

Anonymous said...

Thank God!!!! Now i can talk to my husband and not worry over him so much. Thank you grits. Keep up the good work.