Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Inmate phone time doubled to boost victim compensation revenue

The Texas Tribune reports that TDCJ inmates would have their maximum phone time doubled under an amendment by Rep. Jerry Madden to HB 1 that would allow up to 480 minutes per month, up from 240.
The 240-minute cap was expected to raise $7.5 million for the Compensation to Victims of Crime Fund, but only managed to bring in $5 million. Madden said he hopes to see the $7.5 million raised with this new 480-minute cap.

“This is an easy way to raise more revenue for the state,” he said.

24 comments:

Texas Maverick said...

Let's see now. Families will have to pay $100 medical deductible and have the privilege of paying $124.80 if they choose to talk to their loved ones. If we aren't using the max now, why would we change? Money is limited if the inmate was the primary breadwinner and if the medical is taken out all at once, it may be hard to come up with the extra funds. Finding initial trust account funds was hard to begin with, now families will have to find that extra money again. Phone calls may be reduced not increased for several months. Giving with one hand and taking with the other seems to be the way of balancing this budget.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the $100 medical fee will have the impact they expect. Think about it. That is that much less that the inmates will have to spend on commissary. Unfortunately, many of them probably have only a limited amount of money to spend so trying to generate more revenue from a limited pot of money may not be so successful.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:32, on another string it was mentioned that many healthy inmates currently don't access medical care, so once they're paying $100, they may demand more services because they're paying for it, even though the payment doesn't cover the costs. Given that, I think there's a good chance that plan will backfire. They'd have probably been better off just boosting the copay to $5.

Maverick, I do think it's likely there are many families who come in just under the 240 minutes but don't quite max out (reserving some time in case of emergencies, etc.), and so some folks will use some of the extra. Most, however, will not.

sunray's wench said...

They could allow pre-paid calls to overseas inmate friends and family if they are serious about increasing the Victim Fund money.... but wait, TDCJ have to give the first cut of any profits made back to the phone company, before the Victim Fund gets a penny.

I have a document somewhere that sets out all the kickbacks and call charges for every state DoC phone service. Let me know if you are interested Scott and I'll type it up (came in paper format from a pal in PA).

Gritsforbreakfast said...

SW, why don't you please at least send me the TX data on that. Thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm Anon #2, CURE(citizens united for rehabilitation of errants)has an eTc (equitable telephone charges) Campaign that compares state by state providers and charges. A couple of months ago they published an updated report, but I can't find the doc. Here's the link to the eTc page - http://www.etccampaign.com/rates.php

Anonymous said...

My understanding was that Senator Whitmire did not like inmates paying for services they are not using and recommended removal of the rule for "healthy" inmates to be charged. In the special session Corrections committee debated and changed to the $100 fee will be charged upon the first medical visit, but deductions may be no more than 50% of the inmates account balance. The Medical Fee has not finally passed and is still being debated.

Now at the end of the day, it still is the family paying that fee on top of their own health insurance fees, payment in to commissary accounts, payment for usage of the phone system, payment to purchase the meds they are proposing go through commissary, and of course paying for expenses to go to visitation. Seems they are doing more to discourage family ties than encourage them.

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong but I understood the $100.00 yearly copay would only be applied "IF" the inmate went to the Dr. the 1st time in that year. There are some inmates who never come to medical until called for things like yearly physicals, yearly TB test, etc. which there is no charge for.

If they would make more otc things available in the commisary like athletes feet cream, eye drops, and
allergy remedies it would help a little for those who were treating themselves in the freeworld with things like zyrtec etc......

I don't know if it will help or not, I'll believe it when I see it, I doubt they will take the whole $100.00 out at one time. Also chronic condition's such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease etc. still won't cost anything for anything related to those assoc with thos conditions.

At this time we can't charge the $3.00 for anything security makes them come to medical for. If they break a fingernail and it bleeds on their kitchen job, they are made to come to medical and we have to assess and treat it and do an injury report-no charge. If they self mutilate, which is very often with certain inmates, we stitch, derma bond, steri-strip and bandage them up only to have them tear it all out the next day.-no charge.
You get in a fight, have to come to medical, get your injuries looked at and treated-no charge.
These are examples and even with no charge us nurses/doc's still have to chart, chart, chart on it which takes time, time, time!

UTMB is having town hall meetings all this week at all the hub units.
Very curious about the agenda?

Nurseypooh said...

An: 0630 is me Nurseypooh

Gritsforbreakfast said...

BTW, Nurseypooh, thanks for using a pseudonym for your comments. It really helps to distinguish between all the anons.

Anonymous said...

Back to the phone issue. The federal government and other states have found ways to allow phone calls to cell phones. I know Texas is phobic, but get with the millenium. I am the only one on my son's visit list with a land line because I REALLY want to hear from him. His brother away at university is saving costs, and only has his cell. His aunt and uncle, saving money, only have a cell. His friends, the younin's, only have cell phones. If the state really wants to make some money, allow calls to cell phones, the FED does. If it's good enuf for the good 'ol USofA, it aught to be good enuf for TX. Oh wait, are we that "special"? I reckon we is.

Professor Mom said...

I'd like to see how Texas compares to other states DoC phone charges and their portion thereof. Can you scan it and make it available sunray's wench?

Tuli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm going to input my 2 Cents into this being an TDCJ Offender's Wife. First, the 240 minutes to 480 is something my husband and I are very excited about despite the ideal that it will definitely cost us more money to which we do not have. Yes, some families don't use the whole 240 while others do. If your family doesn't use the whole 240 now then keep to it and save your cost. However, for those like my husband and I blow through our 240 minutes within the first two weeks of the month and it's nice to have that extra cushion of minutes. I may be broke being an Offender's wife with all the cost but I always seem to be able to make do and budget so it's win-win for my husband and I.

Being an Offender's wife is indeed costly between the phone calls, gas to visits, money for vending at visits, commissary, sending out letters, and of course the phone line to receive the phone calls. It gets overwhelming especially in today's economy.

It's can be a challenge in spending $100 on a medical fee. There's a difference between in-unit Medical and actually seeing a Dr. In unit-medical simply just gives you medication or something for something minor and seeing a Doctor requires immediate or important medical attention. My husband wants to have basic medical care which he can't receive because it's not deemed a medical emergency or life-threatening. On top of that if he wants something like Dental work done for an injury that arises while a TDCJ Offender he can't--he has to be there a year. I don't mind paying the $100 if he will receive what he needs medically. It's a burden and it's not cheap but somehow if he can receive something in there that will cost an arm and a leg out here then I'll be fine with it.

Sentencing needs to be taken into account. If an Offender is there for a shorter term and there's a likelihood they'll be Paroled out versus someone there on a longer Sentence that will have years before they see Parole. So their medical needs may be difference. Luckily, my husband is on the shorter side and the odds of him being Paroled out is very likely. So, most likely he will come home to receive any and all medical/dental care before he can receive in TDCJ versus others.

sunray's wench said...

The document I mentioned previously is now with Grits :)

the honeys said...

when will we know if the bill passes?

Anonymous said...

Let's look at this under the right light! These "private owned" Texas facilities feed our loved ones on ONLY 50 CENTS PER DAY!!! A grown man!
So when they "create" these problems like diabetes and such in the inmate due to the lack of healthy food served and absolutely none available in the commissary, just junk food...then we as honest, law-abiding, working, taxpaying Americans have to send our loved ones more money for meds, care (if that is what you can call it) etc; BUT our president GIVES all this to the non-working, non-taxpaying,ILLEGALS that cross our boarders and we pay for that too! Does anyone else get the picture yet?

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous Wife of Inmate: Honey DON'T get your hopes up for parole, you're in TEXAS! There are no "short terms" in Texas, unless it is for something murder, rape, B&E, child molestation...now those get in and out pretty quickly because they know they will be coming back in soon and make the state even more money. But now if you are in for the first time on say marijuana or drinking and driving...forget it honey...he's in for the long haul and so are you. So paint your world pretty as long as you can, it will turn ugly soon enough. The prison system is all about money in Texas, it is a commodity.

Anonymous said...

Did this Bill ever pass? Did the minutes double?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Yes, it did.

Rachel said...

They have implemented the $100 deductible, but have no updated the "minutes remaining" to deduct from 480, it is still 240.

Rachel said...

They have implemented the $100 deductible, but have no updated the "minutes remaining" to deduct from 480, it is still 240.

D3nie said...

Hey Grits - Can you tell us what happened here? How did the item to double the minutes fall off this bill? Have you heard anything at all??

Anonymous said...

Why is there a cap or limit on phone minutes at all?

Aren't the families incurring all the cost?

Isn't it all profit for the state?

And no one mentioned the cost of sending reading materials added to all the other costs the family shoulder (trips, commissary, now medical, phone, books, magazines, writing tablets, etc.) and then they can't even deduct it on taxes.

Like the state really provides for inmates. Please.

Heard one unit is serving watered tomato sauce. Hardy eating folks.

All legislators are invited to skip lunch on weekends until they are reinstated to those in prison.

Eat breakfast at 4 a.m. and dinner at 4 p.m. and enjoy your weekends, folks!