Image from nbcnews.com
Image from nbcnews.com

The government planned to address the issue on exorbitant prison phone rates but for now, it was put on hold.  Such decision was made by Washington’s U.S. Court of Appeals, where a stay was issued to Federal Communications Commission’s order last November 2015 to reduce the cost of prison calls which skyrocketed to $14 dollars a minute prior to the enactment of the new caps.

FCC initiated to cap prison phone call rates to 11 cents per minute in all local and long distance calls. Caps stretched from 14 cents to 22 cents per minute, relying mostly on the institution’s size. However, Securus Technologies and GTL sued FCC, stating that such ruling on phone rates has overpowered the authority of the commission. Hence, these 2 giant phone companies urged the court to stop FCC from making rules since the court battle is not done yet.  The court on the other hand sided on the companies’ favor.

For years, the prisoners’ family members protested about the ceiling-high phone rates. If not resolved, such issue will cause prisoners to end up having too much debt once released.

Despite the U.S. Court’s decision, there are still reasons for prisoners and their family members to be happy. The appeal to hold the capped phone rates is only applicable to calls made in the same state. Once the call is done outside of the state, the previous cap will still be implemented which is 25 cents every minute of call and 21 cents per minute for prepaid or debit call.

In 2013, FCC ruled to cap inmates’ phone rates and the interstate calls coming from prison will be paid by their families. And such ruling is not affected by the court’s stay until FCC’s ruling in 2015.The court’s stay will also not affect FCC’s preceding.

There are many reasons why prison calling is a lot expensive compared to typical payphone calls. Prison calls block inmates from making calls to certain individuals like witnesses and judges. They are not allowed to call 800 and 900 numbers and inmates’ conversation over the phone can be monitored. Correction officers can also listen to future calls to a frequently called number. Most of all, all calls will always inform the recipient that the call is coming from a jail. These features will require someone to manage the systems, hence making the phone rate more costly.

But according to Mignon Clyburn; FCC Commissioner who advocates phone call rate cap; a progressive nation like ours must not allow anyone to do so much sacrifice just to keep in touch with one’s love ones, especially those who can least afford to make a call.