Iowa Governor pledges to address cost of prison and jail phone calls

by Peter Wagner, December 28, 2015

In August, I gave the keynote address at the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP’s
Iowa Summit on Justice & Disparities and a major topic was the need for prison phone justice. At that meeting, Governor Brandstad announced a Governor’s Working Group On Justice Policy to address several problems, including the need for phone justice.

In September, I testified by phone to the Working Group about steps Iowa could take.

In November, Governor Brandstad announced the Working Group’s recommendations (summary | details ) which he wanted introduced in the next legislative session. The proposed phone reforms include:

  • Renegotiate contracts with the Iowa Communications Network and seek bids from other vendors with the goal of reducing rates paid by prison inmates and their families.
  • Transition to a per minute calculation for call costs rather than a flat fee.
  • Enable and encourage counties to partner with one another or the Department of Corrections to negotiate more favorable rates with phone vendors.

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