|Former Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson|
Indypolitics reports that the Federal Communications Commission has passed a rule to stop the practice.. While the Indpolitics' spin is that it is a change costing jails "thousands" actually it is the private companies that provide the phone service that is getting hit hard. Yep, the days of their being able to fleece inmates to make millions of dollars off people who are incarcerated appears to be over:
According to the FCC’s website the new rules require that all interstate inmate calling rates, including ancillary charges, be based on the cost of providing the inmate calling service.
The rules also adopt an interim rate cap of $0.21 per minute for debit and pre-paid calls and $0.25 per minute for collect calls, dramatically decreasing rates of over $17 for a 15-minute call to no more than $3.75 or $3.15 a call.
The FCC also presumes that rates of $0.12 per minute for debit and prepaid calls ($1.80 for a 15-minute call) and $0.14 cents per minute for collect calls ($2.10 for a 15-minute call) are just, reasonable and cost-based (safe-harbor rates).
In Marion County a collect call from the jail can... run anywhere from $2-$3 per minute for inmates....The FCC press release is below:
The Federal Communications Commission today took long-overdue steps to ensure that the rates for interstate long-distance calls made by prison inmates are just, reasonable and fair.Unfortunately the rule lumps inmates at jails and prisons together, when in fact they are quite different. In jail, most of the people haven't been convicted yet and they're just being held for trial. In prisons the people have been convicted. I find it most offensive that a private company was allowed to fleece inmates at Jail #2, many of which were there simply because they couldn't afford the bail.
Studies make clear that inmates who maintain contact with family and community while in prison have reduced rate of recidivism and are more likely to become productive citizens upon their release.
Lower rates of recidivism also benefit society by reducing crime, the need for additional prisons, and other costs.
In addition, an estimated 2.7 million children would benefit from increased communication with an incarcerated parent. Many of these children face challenges that are manifested in higher rates of truancy, homelessness, depression and other ills
But the exorbitant price of interstate long-distance calls from correctional facilities today actuallydiscourages such communication because it is too expensive (over $17 for one 15-minute call), particularly for families facing economic hardship. The Order takes immediate action to change this and provide an affordable means to encourage such communication.
The Commission's reforms adopt a simple and balanced approach that protects security and public safety needs, ensures providers receive fair compensation while providing reasonable rates to consumers as follows:
Requires that all interstate inmate calling rates, including ancillary charges, be based on the cost of providing the inmate calling service
Provides immediate relief to exorbitant rates:
Adopts an interim rate cap of $0.21 per minute for debit and pre-paid calls and $0.25 per minute for collect calls, dramatically decreasing rates of over $17 for a 15-minute call to no more than $3.75 or $3.15 a call
Presumes that rates of $0.12 per minute for debit and prepaid calls ($1.80 for a 15-minute call) and $0.14 cents per minute for collect calls ($2.10 for a 15-minute call) are just, reasonable and cost-based (safe-harbor rates)
These rates include the costs of modern security features such as advanced mechanisms that block calls to victims, witnesses, prosecutors and other prohibited parties; biometric caller verification; real-time recording systems; and monitoring to prevent evasion of restrictions on call-forwarding or three-way calling
Concludes that "site commissions" payments from providers to correctional facilities may not be included in any interstate rate or charge
Clarifies that inmates or their loved ones who use Telecommunications Relay Services because of hearing and speech disabilities may not be charged higher rates
Requires a mandatory data collection, annual certification requirement, and enforcement provisions to ensure compliance with this Order
Seeks comment on reforming rates and practices affecting calls within a state
Seeks comment on fostering competition to reduce rates
Building on state reforms, the Commission's action addresses a petition filed nearly a decade ago by Martha Wright, a Washington, D.C. grandmother who sought relief from exorbitant inmate calling rates.
Since then, tens of thousands have urged the FCC to make it possible for them to stay in touch with loved ones in jail.
Also at Jail #2, no in person visitation is allowed. Only visitation through a video screen. You actually get more opportunities to visit a loved one in a state prison than you do at Jail #2, which again is run by CCA, a private corrections company.
Note: Stories detailing the abuse of the commissary fund by former Sheriff Frank Anderson are detailed below:
Friday, September 14, 2012, Commissary Payments to Former Sheriffs and Sheriff's Law Firm Violate Indiana Law
Thursday, October 22, 2009,The Jail Commissary Fund, Part I: Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson Violates Indiana Law to Pay Private Law Firm
Monday, October 26, 2009, The Jail Commissary Fund, Part II: Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson Violates Indiana Law to Pay Accounting and PR Firm Out of Jail Commissary Fund
Wednesday, October 28, 2009, The Jail Commissary Fund, Part III: Need Money to Buy Plaques or Attend a Fundraiser? Just Dip Into the Jail Commissary Fund