Office of Communications, Inc.

UCC Media Justice Update

Prison phone justice needs Congress, FCC Action Welcome

The helpful, but limited, action today by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to the predatory costs of communication between incarcerated people and their loved ones demonstrates the need for federal legislation to address this issue. As has been widely documented, including most recently by the FCC, the costs of calling incarcerated people are "egregiously high." People are sometimes paying almost $25 for a 15-minute call. Further, as the FCC explains, the vote today will address only 20 percent of relevant calls. Congressional action is needed so that the FCC can address the remaining 80 percent.

 

Nonetheless, the FCC today is appropriately voting to reassert its authority over almost all fees, because it is impossible to distinguish between fees related to in-state calls or calls between states. In addition, the FCC is initiating a proceeding to propose lower rates for the 20 percent of calls over which it has jurisdiction. Cheryl A. Leanza, the UCC's policy advisor stated, "The vote at the is a welcome redirection under the present FCC." Ms. Leanza explained, "Our conversations with the FCC about the Further Notice were productive and we look forward to actively participating in a wide-ranging proceeding. The additional questions will enable the FCC to move more quickly to make changes in the future. But it is unfortunate that this vote took so long given that the initial remand from federal court occurred three years ago."

 

In addition, Ms. Leanza noted, "because the FCC's analysis concluded GTL misrepresented its costs to the Commission and the record showed that Securus is imposing fees not permitted by the FCC's rules, I hope to see the FCC move quickly to take enforcement action against those companies."

Categories: prison phone

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