Inmate Phone costs / by kevin murray

Nobody really wants to be in prison or in jail, but in a country, that incarcerates, over two million individuals, it's a fact of American life.  All of us, in one form or another communicate with each other and through this modern age, it has never been easier or cheaper to communicate with one another, even over great distances and from coast-to-coast, so that, the days of having to pay for long distance service, though, they might still exist for the few Luddites that won't change their ways, aren't really a factor for most everyone else, in which every call initiated over a person's cell phone is under the most prevalent cell phone plans treated the same whether it is local or long distance. However, there are still situations, of which being incarcerated is one of them, that the cost of phone communication, whether initiated from inside the incarceration facility or outside of it, are prohibitive in their cost structure, overtly exploitative, unfair, and punitive in their effects.


While, most everyone expects that there should be rules, regulations, and punishments associated with being incarcerated, so that, utilizing a phone for communication is subject to certain hours and restrictions, that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that calling to a given inmate or receiving such a call is structured in such a manner that the monetary cost for the initiator of those calls is both uncompetitive and unreasonably high, leaving the inmate or in reality, family members of the inmate  in an exceedingly raw deal of having to shell out real money for each precious minute spent on the phone, in which, when the calls are "collect" or are considered to be long distance, the charges get even more expensive, and in any event, without any other viable options, those on the outside must pay these exorbitant costs in order to just have a conversation with their loved one on the inside.


The reason that these costs are so high, is quite obviously, because the way that the present system works, is quite beneficial for the exclusive deal being provided to the phone communication provider, as well as quite frankly, the "kickback", in effect, provided to the incarceration facility for the privilege of granting said company the right to be the exclusive phone communication provider.  None of this should be happening, especially in consideration that the very people that are incarcerated to begin with, more times than not, are impoverished, and their family members on the outside, typically are in difficult financial straits, themselves, in addition to, from a humanitarian perspective, that there is a substantial benefit, in having people that are incarcerated being able to readily communicate with those that they care and love, making for a better social situation, on the outside, as well as on the inside.


In point of fact, as reported by, there are "… a small handful of companies that dominate the $1.2 billion US prison phone industry," which indicates exactly how much money is at stake, demonstrating that it is high time to make some fundamental changes as to how communication is conducted within incarceration facilities, that takes into account, that wantonly profiting off of people that are imprisoned, as well as taking unfair advantage of their families that are stressed out emotionally as well as financially, is a grand disservice to  all fair-minded people, and has no place in this country and should therefore be given no quarter.