Inmates in the 64-county jails across Nebraska who intend to call their family members or lawyers pay surprisingly different rates per call. The charges vary depending on location, with poor areas seemingly paying more.
Research Conducted on Costs of Nebraska County Jail Phone Calls
Research was recently conducted in the facilities under the interest of Senator John McCollister (Omaha) and American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska (ACLU).
It was discovered that to make a 15-minute phone call in the Nebraska county jails, the inmates pay charges ranging from $2 to $20, depending on the location.
While it is obvious that county jails cost money to run, it does not make sense for jail officials to profit off of the the pockets of prison loved ones, who generally incur these costs.
Why are the charges different per jail, based on location?
How does the county jail in which an inmate is held affect the call charges?
The Costs of Calling Home from Nebraska’s County Jails
Let’s assume that an inmate makes four 15-minute calls a week. In that case, the difference will be not less than $275.
Using the same scenario, inmates in Saline County pay $318.24 while Sarpy and Douglas counties charge $41.76.
Poor Inmates Affected Most by High Jail Call Costs
This additional burden has been inappropriately affecting the poor inmates with limited opportunities to earn. In fact, the costs of calling home from jail alone has made them even poorer.
And if these inmates can’t pay, their poor prison loved ones are the ones who are forced to cater for those costs. Let’s not forget that those loved ones are often poor old parents or wives trying to finance their family bills solo.
The effect has been so high, that it has prompted the interventions of parties like the Journal Star. The Journal Star’s editorial board has particularly long opposed such practices calling them, taxes on poverty.
Many believe that these costs are oppressive and unfair considering that most of county jail detainees are there because they cannot afford to pay for bonds before trial.
County Jails in Partnerships with Prison Phone Call Companies
Most of the findings discovered that the profit-oriented companies have partnered with counties to be the exclusive phone providers. They, in turn, impose call rates that tax the inmate population and their prison loved ones on the outside.
Experts, however, say that adoption of high call rates can be understandable during the periods when county budgets are tight.
This is because it raises operational revenues that aren’t paid by a population segment that often feels the burden of property taxes. And it can also cater for some costs associated with imprisonment.
But those without the means to pay, should not be charged such high rates for communication. That, of course, is if we consider that communication will help lower the chances of these county jails to re-host the same people again… AKA recidivism.
Studies have shown that regular communication with families:
- Minimizes recidivism
- Improves the physical and physical health of inmates’ children at home
- Helps parents do their part to help fight the school-to-prison pipeline
Solution to the Call-Rate Discrimination Issue
[amazon_link asins=’0983129819′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’prisonrideshare.org-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’af2133ae-df91-11e7-b4cb-4d87136b4b00′] The county jails in Nebraska do not have to go outside to look for an appropriate model since the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDOC) has all the answers.
NDOC’s state prison system usually charges a fixed rate of $1.50 for a 15-minute call. It banned any contracts involving commissions.
For sure geographical difference should not determine the capabilities of the inmates in the county jail to communicate with their family members or legal representatives.
Nebraska officials should, therefore, know that detainees also need an equitable and fair system during their stay in custody.