Congressional Black Caucus Applauds the Federal Communications Commission’s Decision to Cap Rates of Prison Phone Calls

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Congressional Black Caucus applauds the decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lower rates for inmate calling services (ICS). The FCC’s decision ensures calling rates are reasonable and fair for families who want to stay in touch with incarcerated loved ones. CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) released the following statement following today’s FCC announcement:

“For several years, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the CBC Prison Telecom Working Group have regularly introduced legislation calling upon the FCC to regulate exorbitant calling rates for prisoners.  And, earlier this year, our members met with the director of the Federal Bureau of Prison where we had a comprehensive and candid discussion about the excessive rates prisoners and their families are charged simply for trying to stay in touch with their loved ones.  Prior to today’s announcement, these prohibitively expensive phone calls could range up to nearly $14 dollars per minute and often force families and individuals to forgo contact with loved ones while they are incarcerated.  The new caps reduce the average rates for phone calls substantially and lessen the additional hardship that many families are faced with while their loved ones are imprisoned.

“As we continue our work to decrease mass incarceration, today’s announcement is a step in the right direction to find solutions that help keep families connected, reduce recidivism, and get lives back on track.”

For the past decade, Members of the CBC and the CBC Prison Telecom Working Group have appealed to the FCC to find market-based solutions to curb the skyrocketing phone rates that prisoners and their families must pay.  Earlier this month, CBC Members sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to urge an end to predatory practices and encourage a comprehensive solution to lowering calling rates.  The CBC Prison Telecom Working Group includes Reps. Holmes Norton, Bobby Rush, Bobby Scott, G. K. Butterfield, Donald M. Payne, Jr., John Lewis, and Hank Johnson.

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