Feds Make Prison Phone Calls Less Expensive

1 minute read

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.”

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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.Rogers@time.com