Virginia Prisons Accountability Committee: July 2017

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Prison Phone Calls Hustle-Priority Alert

One of the results of Donald Trump becoming the President is he either doesn't care or favors (whatever the reasons are) phone companies jacking rates and policies back up on prison phone calls

During Obama's Presidency, the FCC made phone companies price down rates on prison phone calls. Naturally, phone companies squealed, hating it because the prison phone call business is an extremely lucrative hustle, squeezing every last hard earned penny from families and friends of prisoners.

So phone companies appealed the Obama FCC rule and in early June 2017, the United States Appeal Court for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC exceeded its authority by regulating intrastate prison phone call rates. To which the Donald Trump FCC will let stand and not appeal. So prison phone call rates can or will be jacked back up to those outrageous rates pre-Obama.

As it applies to Virginia we need to know this: Virginia has a Special Law, Va-Code 53.1-1.1

  • Telephone systems within Correctional facilities the Department of Corrections shall offer debit or prepaid telephone systems, in addition to any existing collect calling system, which allows telephone calls to be placed to the telephone number or numbers on an approved call list. Such telephone systems may be established with the lowest available rates.
The law quoted above requires the Virginia Department of Corrections [VADOC] provide prisoners with the cheapest call rates available.

During the Obama FCC prison phone call rate decrease. The average rate of intrastate (within) state calls in Virginia averaged $1.10 for 20-minute call  This is very important. Because it reveals it was a low rate phone companies would provide prison phone calls and still make a profit. Which was a dramatic decrease from the pre-Obama ruling of approximately $5 for a 20-minute phone call?

So if phone companies providing prison calls within Virginia want to return to their $5 rates, VADOC will have to square it and explain why it isn't in violation of VA. Code 53.1-1.1.

So, people, we must be vigilant and use every means at our disposal to ensure that phone rates for prison calls are not slyly increased by phone companies with a wink and nod from VADOC.


In Strength,
By vapac