Officials Want to Reduce Cost of Inmates' Phone Calls

Officials Want to Reduce Cost of Inmates' Phone Calls

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has unanimously voted to change a contract with GTL, a correctional telecommunications services, after deeming that GTL was overcharging consumers and underpaying commissions, the Los Angeles Times reports. The company recently agreed to a $1.1-million settlement.

The Federal Communications Commission has criticized the telecommunications industries dealing with the corrections industry because of what the FCC says are unreasonably high calling rates for prison and jail inmates. The present procedure is that the telecommunications companies pay “commissions” to correctional institutions and charge fees to make up the expense. The increased costs for inmates prompted San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to say, “We just decided to stop the bleeding of poor people,” the Times reports.

A 15-minute collect in-state regional call that now costs $13.35 will now cost $4.05; a 15-minute minute collect local call drop from $4.45 to $2.75.

County-run jails are against the new regulation, but Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) has brought a bill that would ban commissions and require contracts to be given to providers that could offer the lowest prices. The California State Sheriffs’ Assn. opposes the bill because they argue that the bill would “negatively impact inmates.” The State Assembly has passed Quirk’s bill; it will face the State Senate Appropriations Committee in August.

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