Inmates need to communicate with family and friends. How do they communicate, though? For inmates to communicate, they must make calls home. Communication has however been challenging because of the rising call rates. According to Eric Markowitz on 06/30/16, the families of inmates in the U.S pay up to $1 to talk to their relatives locked behind bars. The Federal Communications Commission came in to save this situation by regulating the call rates. The inmate’s communication industry primarily controlled by private firms focused on harvesting profits instead of making life in prison easy for prisoners. Notably in June, the call rates rose yet again.
Connie Pratt, a sixty-three-year-old woman from California, Chico, whose thirty-three-year-old son is behind bars for correctional purposes interjected she hoped that Federal Communications Industry would lower the prison call rates. But on June 20th, she realized that the call rates appreciated supposedly on the day they were to depreciate. Connie, the physically challenged woman, was devastated given the fact that she spends $900 monthly because of her disability. The fifteen minutes call rate bill rose from $7.20 to $9.77.
For all inmates in America, communication goes through private firms. Due to monopoly contracts, a call per minute costs $1. Hence, a fifteen-minute call would cost up to more than $15 which is too high for the families. According to the reports, the high call rates were also due to revenue sharing deals with sheriffs. Mignon Clyburn, who is a federal regulator at the FCC, admits to the high call rates being the biggest market failure he has seen. The FCC voted for a program dubbed ‘rate caps’ in October 2015, meant to charge inmates and their families. The price caps program by Federal Communications Commission to interstate calls applies to local phone calls only. If a prisoner made a phone call from Nevada to California, it would be monitored and charged on the rate cap making it cheaper.