As we engage the Poor People's Campaign one of the themes we are exploring is the connection between systemic racism and poverty. We know that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by our system of mass incarceration. What is sometimes overlooked are the specific ways this keeps families trapped in poverty. The practice of private corporations charging families excessively high rates for the right to talk to their incarcerated loved ones is one such example.
Studies have shown that maintaining strong relationships between families and their incarcerated loved ones is critical to the process of reentry.
Thanks to sustained advocacy by many of you, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) attempted to make prison phone calls more affordable. They were subsequently sued by several of the largest prison telephone operators, including Securus and Global Tel*Link. These companies were successful in preventing most of the reforms that would have fixed this broken industry and made it easier for families to stay in touch.
That’s why Congress needs to step in. Just last month, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois introduced the Inmate Calling Technical Corrections Act of 2018 (S.2520) which would address the need to eliminate predatory prison phone rates by restoring appropriate authority to the FCC, to regulate local rates and additional fees.
Act now. Tell Congress to stand with families and act to protect them from exploitative prison phone rates.