The Federal Communications Commission has passed new rules limiting the cost of prison phone calls.
The agency says its new rules will lower the average cost of inmate calls to $1.65 for 15 minutes, from $2.96 for intrastate calls and $3.15 for interstate calls, the Verge reports, by limiting fees that prison phone service providers can charge and capping per-minute costs.
Now, federal prisons will be allowed to charge a maximum of 11 cents per minute and companies will no longer be allowed to force people to pay for calls in flat 15-minute blocks even if they talk for less time, among other new provisions.
The prison phone companies aren't happy. Brian Oliver, CEO of Global Tel*Link, told NPR: "It's financially borderline catastrophic."
But FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn sees it differently. "I see the clearest, most egregious case of market failure ever," he told NPR. "This is a major cost that families pay. And these families are the most economically vulnerable in our nation."