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I co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative to put the problem of mass incarceration — and the perverse incentives that fuel it — on the national agenda. Over the last 16 years, our campaigns have protected our democracy from the prison system and protected the poorest families in this country from the predatory prison telephone industry. Our reports untangle the statistics and recruit new allies.

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23,000+ SumOfUs members call on FCC to regulate instate prison phone charges

by Leah Sakala, December 16, 2013

PPI and SumOfUs petition on instate phone rates

On Friday we submitted a petition, together with the corporate accountability organization SumOfUs, signed by 23,585 people calling on the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the expensive charges families pay for instate calls from a loved one in prison or jail.

When the FCC ruled in August to regulate the most expensive inter-state phone charges, the Commissioners asked for comments on whether they should extend their regulation to also rein in instate prison and jail phone charges. As we told the FCC in our cover letter, the support for instate regulation is broad:

1,489 of the comments contain unique statements written by individual signers. We have enlarged and highlighted these unique comments to demonstrate the depth of public support for regulating in-state calls from prisons and jails. These comments contain firsthand accounts from mothers, fathers, spouses, stepparents, godparents, aunts, and children of incarcerated people discussing how the unregulated prison and jail telephone industry strains family ties and presents them with an enormous financial burden. We also received comments from correctional facility employees, police officers, probation officers, teachers, ministers, lawyers, child psychiatrists, and social workers explaining how high phone charges break up families, thus increasing the odds that incarcerated people will commit a new offense in the future and return to prison.

And as our map shows, people all over the country want to ensure that ALL families can afford to stay in touch:

Map of support for instate prison phone regulation

The FCC’s initial public comment period on instate prison and jail phone charge regulation is open through this Friday. You can weigh in, too, by submitting comments to the FCC’s docket.

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