FCC Takes Steps To Reduce Inmate Phone Call Rates

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to cut back on excessive rates and unequal fees on phone calls for staying in touch with loved ones who are carrying out their jail or prison terms.

The FCC plans to accomplish this by putting into effect new charges for inmate telephone calling. The new rates, which replace the interim rate of 21 cents a minute for debit/prepaid interstate calls and 25 cents a minute for collect interstate calls, will be 13 cents per minute for state or federal prisons.

The charges will also vary for jails with various numbers of inmates. For example, a
jail with up to 349 inmates, 31 cents will be charged for 60 seconds or one minute while jails with 350-999 inmates the charge will be 21 cents for 60 seconds. For jails with 1,000 or more inmates, the rate will be 19 cents for 60 seconds.

The new rates are expected to be in force late in the fourth quarter this year in prisons and in the first quarter of 2017 in jails.

According to the FCC, rates for collect calls, which are slightly higher in the first year, will be lessened after a two-year conversion time.

The FCC also set boundaries for the nature of supplementary services providers may charge users. These include preset payment amounts and third party monetary business fees.

In addition, should any questions concerning overcharges take place, a complaint may be filed with the FCC by telephone or by mail.

The new rates that were established on August 4 will replace the October 2015 rates which never were realized due to a court dispute.

Information was found at www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/inmate-telephone-service.