Ask anyone who’s ever had to help an incarcerated loved one pay for phone calls if they cost too much. You’ll hear a resounding “Yes.”
But, many of the attempts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stop the prices of calls from rising have actually been blocked when they go to court.
Why Are Inmate Calls So Costly?
One of the biggest problems is that there are very large “site commissions,” that phone companies have to pay to prisons and jails for the exclusive rights to offer inmate phone services.
Recently released documents show that these huge payments actually account for as much as 60% of what prisoners are paying for phone calls.
A nonprofit journalism group called MuckRock recently obtained some of the contracts between phone companies and prisons and parish jails in the state of Louisiana, and you might be surprised at what they found.
Who Splits the Money Made from Jail & Prison Phone Calls?
Even though the jail gets most of the money from inmate calls, the phone company does almost all the work and supplying of equipment. According to the contract, Correct Solutions has to install and maintain inmate phones, as well as the billing system and is also responsible for paying for these requirements.
Not only that, but they also have to dispatch their own technicians to the jail to keep the phones working. Correct Solutions is also responsible for supplying an administrative phone system to the tune of $25,000.
Why Won’t FCC Put Caps on the Costs of Prison Calls?
Despite these tough contract terms, prison phone companies say that the FCC shouldn’t place limits on the cost of calls. They say this is because of the commissions that they have to pay to the jails and prisons.
There is one area where it doesn’t cost the phone companies a fortune to process calls… and that’s for jail and prison calls that cross state lines.
This is where the phone companies can keep their commissions. And, it’s the reason why they are against placing a cap on the costs of phone calls for inmates.