The Brennan Center has worked to persuade the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to lower the exorbitant phone rates charged for calls made from many prisons and jails. When high charges are imposed on such calls, the people who end up paying the price are family members trying to stay in touch with loved ones in prison, social services agencies trying to help prisoners prepare to reenter society, and public defenders with tight budgets. The high costs often apply not only to calls from people charged with or convicted of crimes, but also to calls from immigrants being held in immigration detention.
The Brennan Center has twice filed comments with the FCC on behalf of a broad coalition of family members, religious leaders, educators, attorneys, and social service providers who must communicate regularly with those behind bars and who bear the burden of paying the excessive cost of collect calls from prison. Both the 2007 comments and the 2004 comments support a proposal filed with the FCC by Martha Wright and others who are incarcerated or who regularly receive phone calls from incarcerated people. The petitioners ask the FCC to lower calling rates and to permit debit card calling in lieu of the collect calls to which prisoners often are restricted.