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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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PPI’s Aleks Kajstura presents at FCC workshop on further regulation of the prison phone industry

by Leah Sakala, August 20, 2014

Aleks Kajstura at the FCC workshop

While the Federal Communications Commission’s historic ruling to rein in the prison telephone industry last summer was a huge step forward, there’s lots more to be done. That’s why last month the Commissioners held a Workshop on Further Reform of Inmate Calling Services to gather additional information from experts and industry participants (transcript).

Prison Policy Initiative Legal Director Aleks Kajstura gave an invited presentation of our research on two different workshop panels, highlighting the importance of addressing the wide spectrum of “ancillary fees” in regulation and explaining why fair phone charges must extend to both prisons and jails:

A particular highlight from the workshop was Darrell Baker, the Director of the Alabama Public Service Commission, who described his Commission’s strong new regulation to bring down prison and jail phone call rates and fees in his state.

We commend the FCC for continuing to work towards comprehensive regulation of this deeply broken industry. As we’ve recently blogged, even after the FCC’s initial order was issued last year industry players have wasted no time raising charges and devising new ways to put basic communication out of reach for the families of incarcerated people around the country. And, as Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton pointed out in her remarks at the workshop, a lot is at stake in the struggle for fair communications policy:

We have documented that of all the approaches, the many approaches that are used to reduced recidivism, the one that we can document has the greatest effect is stimulating communication from behind those bars with people in the greater society who will support them and who love them.

Stay tuned (and sign up for our newsletter for the latest updates!) as we continue to fight alongside our colleagues for fair prison and jail communications policy.

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