New York Times editorial cites PPI research on correctional video communication industry

by Leah Sakala, January 7, 2014

New York Times thumbnail

Today the New York Times issued a strong editorial praising the Federal Communications Commission for acting to regulate inter-state prison phone call charges, and proclaiming:

The commission now needs to be on the lookout for — and crack down on, if necessary — similar abuses involving newer communication technologies like person-to-person video chat, email and voice mail.

The editorial cites our recent submission to the FCC detailing why it should keep an eye on the prison and jail video communication and email markets:

An analysis provided last month to the commission by the Prison Policy Initiative, a Massachusetts research group, urged similar rules for video visitation, email, voice mail and other systems. It said that for-profit video visitation systems (allowing families and inmates to talk using, in some instances, personal computers outside the prison and video terminals inside) are being “driven by the same perverse incentives that caused market failure in the correctional telephone industry.”

Absent regulation, prisons and phone companies will simply use the video chats to get around the price caps on interstate calls.

Whatever the technology, gouging prison inmates and their families is both unfair and counterproductive, weakening family ties that could be critical to an inmate’s adjustment to the world beyond bars.

If you’d like to weigh in, too, please do so on the FCC’s website before the current comment period closes on Monday, January 13.

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