August 6, 2020
Federal Communications Commission Moves to Reduce Costs of Phone Calls from Prison
The high cost of phone calls from prison can prevent incarcerated individuals from communicating with their families, contributing to poor mental health, recidivism, and other negative outcomes. Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a rule that reduces the existing rate caps for interstate calls and regulates the costs of ancillary fees. In a new analysis, AAF’s Tara O’Neill Hayes and Jennifer Huddleston explain the benefits of communication, the barriers to communication currently, the FCC’s authority regarding the issue, and the potential impact of this new rule along with its limitations.
The FCC’s recent action will help reduce the cost of phone calls for individuals incarcerated and their families. Reducing these costs is expected to help individuals maintain relationships while they are incarcerated, which is beneficial to their wellbeing and that of their loved ones, particularly their children. Further, strong family relationships are critical for a successful reentry into society following release. Evidence shows that people who are able to maintain good relationships with loved ones while incarcerated are less likely to be reincarcerated later. In this regard, it is in the public’s interest to reduce the costs of communication for the incarcerated population.