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

The Iowa Governor's Working Group On Justice Policy takes up our recommendations on phone justice.

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.

Peter Wagner is Executive Director of the Prison Policy Initiative. (Other articles | Full bio | Contact)

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