It has been a journey that has seen far better days for the inmate communication industry. The bone of contention is always the inmate calls. While providers justify high call rates, the customer is not in a position to keep up with the rising costs. Even in an unrestricted environment, most Americans are unable to afford some vital services like social security, insurance, and education. When the calls to inmates continue to grow to unprecedented levels, the FCC seems to be fighting a losing battle.
After the initial vote to place caps on interstate and intrastate calls, the FCC hoped to put an end to what it sees as exploitation of inmate families. However, this vote was not smooth since the commissioners always split in the middle. This time round, the vote of 3:2 is not convincing. That is why the providers went to court to prevent the caps from being effective.
According to Morning Consult, cases, including the 13-year-old case are the nature of the current impasse at the FCC. While calls could potentially cost north of $1 a minute, there is no incentive to go below. Providers feel that unless FCC factored in expenses of running communication services, there is no way they can set the caps.
The effort to cap is noble, but it faces significant challenges to implement. Firs, the caps would have seen families pay half what they were paying before the cap. Interstates calls form the bulk of most inmate calls, a 40% deduction would have gone a long way in ensuring that families spoke to prisoners as often as possible. However, the prison communication providers see lost revenues.
There is discontent among commissioners, who represent various stakeholders. Across the political divide, there is no consensus on the applicability, sustainability or the legality of the caps going forward. In the meantime, the legal injunction is still in effect, and the providers seem to be on a holiday. Calls are going up. Though most supporters of the cap are expecting the current understanding legally sound, there is still room for further delays through the courts.