Regulating the prison phone industry

Some children have to pay $1/minute to talk to an incarcerated parent. Why? Because prisons and jails profit by granting monopoly telephone contracts to the company that will charge families the most.

For more than ten years, families had been calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide relief from the exorbitant bills that the prison phone companies charge just to stay in touch. Recognizing yet another way that mass incarceration punishes entire communities, the Prison Policy Initiative joined with partners across the country to help generate the research and advocacy that was necessary for change.

We've won some real victories at the FCC, we're fighting the industry's lawsuit against fair regulation, and keeping this industry and the perverse incentives it offers the sheriffs in the news.

On this page:

Reports

Research briefings

In addition to submitting our reports, we've been submitting regular updates to the FCC docket with new data and information and responses to FCC requests.

Video




Taking action


Our work in the news


Our blog posts on the topic:

Other news coverage we think you should read


  • The Prison Phone Justice Campaign contains a wealth of information, including a Brief Bank for litigation-related documents and a collection of publications related to prison phone reform.
  • The Bankrupt-Your-Family Calling Plan New York Times editorial (December 22, 2006) is an excellent summary of what's wrong with the prison phone industry.
  • An excellent infographic that succinctly explains the core problems in the prison telephone industry, developed by Take Part and the Center for Media Justice.
  • Thousand Kites phone justice contains an updated list of recent op-eds and press coverage of prison phone justice, and links to the Center for Media Justice’s Democracy Toolkit for prison phone reform.
  • Prison Legal News is the leading news source for the rights of incarcerated persons. Prison Legal News has been documenting the injustices in the prison phone industry for years, and remains the leading forum for new developments in the fight for prison phone reform.
  • Prison Legal News's phone charges by state data tables.
  • The Federal Communications Commission: Track developments and new public comments on the Wright Petition. Select the Electronic Comment Filing System link from the menu on the right-hand side of the homepage, and then search for proceeding number 96-128. Read letters written by incarcerated people, their families, and organizations detailing the harm caused by high prison phone rates.

Meet us

  • February 5, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be in New York for the reception of the exhibition, Prison Obscura, curated by Prison Photography editor Pete Brook. The exhibition includes Prison Map by Josh Begley and Proliferation by Paul Rucker, both of which rely on Prison Policy Initiative data to show the scale of mass incarceration. The event will be held at Parsons School of Design from 6:30-8:30pm and a Curator’s Talk by Pete Brooks at 5:45pm.
  • February 6, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be at Yale for a panel presentation at the Equality Re-Imagined Conference.
  • February 20, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner, Board Member Amanda Alexander and Advisory Board Member Bruce Reilly will present on a panel entitled “The fight against mass incarceration: Combining litigation and policy work for systemic change” at RebLaw at Yale Law School from 3-4:30pm.
  • February 24, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be speaking to the American Constitution Society Chapter at UConn School of Law at 12:30pm. Topics will include mass incarceration, prison gerrymandering, sentencing enhancement zones and more.

Not near you?
Invite us to your city, college or organization.

Events

  • February 5, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be in New York for the reception of the exhibition, Prison Obscura, curated by Prison Photography editor Pete Brook. The exhibition includes Prison Map by Josh Begley and Proliferation by Paul Rucker, both of which rely on Prison Policy Initiative data to show the scale of mass incarceration. The event will be held at Parsons School of Design from 6:30-8:30pm and a Curator’s Talk by Pete Brooks at 5:45pm.
  • February 6, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be at Yale for a panel presentation at the Equality Re-Imagined Conference.
  • February 20, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner, Board Member Amanda Alexander and Advisory Board Member Bruce Reilly will present on a panel entitled “The fight against mass incarceration: Combining litigation and policy work for systemic change” at RebLaw at Yale Law School from 3-4:30pm.
  • February 24, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be speaking to the American Constitution Society Chapter at UConn School of Law at 12:30pm. Topics will include mass incarceration, prison gerrymandering, sentencing enhancement zones and more.

Not near you?
Invite us to your city, college or organization.

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