Congressman Pallone Voices Support for Phone Justice

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District wrote to the FCC to voice support for its proposal to reform correctional facility phone rates and eliminate commissions from phone companies to prisons and jails. Congressman Pallone sits on the Communications Subcommittee in the House, and in January will become the Ranking Member of the entire Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees many federal agencies including the FCC. He wrote:

“Inmates should be able to remain in contact with their families through more affordable and competitive means . . . I applaud the FCC for its commitment to reforming these policies that too often disproportionately affect detainees with minimal financial resources.”

Read the full letter here. You can join Congressman Pallone by submitting your comments in support of reform to the FCC – just fill out this form!

FCC Comment Period on Regulating High In-State Telephone Rates is Opening

Are you concerned about the harm that high in-state telephone rates cause to families with incarcerated or detained loved ones in NJ and across the US? The FCC just published their latest notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register, seeking public comments by January 5, 2015.  See Media Action Grassroots Network national press release, with a quote from Karina Wilkinson here.

Learn more about the problems associated with high in-state telephone rates by checking out our Facts page.  Send in your comments online by filling out this form.

 

FCC Moves to Regulate In-State Prison and Jail Phone Rates

The FCC voted today to issue a “Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” a move to regulate in-state prison and jail calling rates. Once the Notice is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 45 day period set up for the public to comment on the exorbitant rates that continue, especially in New Jersey’s county jails.

Commissioner Clyburn and Wheeler’s press release with more detail is here, and Senator Booker’s statement of support is here.

State Lowers Phone Rates to 15 Cents/Minute

In the wake of the FCC’s order capping interstate rates, the New Jersey State Department of Corrections has repeatedly lowered all the rates from state prisons. Most recently, a three-month contract extension lowered the rates to 15 cents per minute. Read the contract extension here.

These lower rates show that without paying commissions, companies can afford to charge families less. We look forward to further decreases in the rates at state facilities, and to parallel decreases at county facilities.

ACLU Supports BPU Petition

The ACLU of New Jersey joined the New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in Trenton on April 30 when we filed our petition asking the Board of Public Utilities to cap the cost of calls from prisons and jails in New Jersey.

Read the ACLU’s letter of support to the Board of Public Utilities.

Petition Filed with the Board of Public Utilities

Today, a group of formerly incarcerated New Jersey residents, their families, and community organizations join together to file a petition with the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU), asking the Board to lower the cost of phone calls from prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities in New Jersey. The petition comes in the wake of a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rule, implemented in February 2014, which caps the cost of out-of-state calls from correctional facilities but leaves in-state calls unregulated. The petition argues that “high phone rates lead to numerous negative effects for vulnerable families across the state,” and asks the BPU to ensure that phone companies cannot unfairly profit off people in New Jersey.

The final petition is available here, and the supporting documents are available here.

A press release is available here.