Saturday, August 31, 2013

Prison phone rates decline after FCC vote.

Source: Campaign for Prison Phone Justice
The Campaign for Prison Phone Justice has put out this fact sheet (pdf) in the wake of the Federal Communication Commission's recent decision to regulate prison phone rates. "In their order, the FCC acknowledged that the prison telephone industry has failed to deliver either competitive rates or choices to inmates and their families." The new rules regulate how much prison systems and vendors can profit from phone revenue, setting maximum "safe harbor" rates for phone calls where excessive rates are presently on the books.

On the campaign's website, there's a fascinating chart (pdf) created before the FCC ruling showing how widely states vary in prison phone costs. Texas' rates are around the middle of the pack, to the extent it's possible to make apples to apples comparisons. That table had TDCJ receiving a 40% "kickback" on the costs families pay for inmate phone calls. Under the new rules, said the fact sheet, "Costs resulting from kickbacks cannot be passed on to inmates and their families, and are no longer considered part of the cost of providing phone service."

After the FCC ruling, according to this chart (pdf) posted by the campaign, TDCJ rates for a 15-minute call would decline by 32.5%, from $6.45 to $4.35. The old rate for collect calls was $.26 per minute for in-state calls and $.43 for calls out of state, with $2.49 per month tacked on for "billing" costs. (Source.) Grits emailed the TDCJ Public Information Office to ask for the updated rates and will pass them along when I get them.


sunray's wench said...

Very good news for those eligible to use the phone system.

It would be interesting to see the profit made by TDCJ on the inmate "care package" scheme and money deposits through the eComm Direct facility too. Users are charged a $3.95 "shipping and handling" fee for every transaction, even thoguh for items purchased, they are already in the units because it is the same company that already supplied the commisarry goods.

Anonymous said...

I get charged for putting money on the offenders phone account plus tax and then when he calls me, the call is taxed again. I go though Jpay.

Anonymous said...

Anyway it goes it's still too much, JPAY charges $6.95 (on a $50.00 deposit)then the commissary charges a convenience charge, so by the time the inmate gets the phone money almost $10.00 is gone