Unfortunately there have been a time, or two that I found myself an unwilling guest of the state of Connecticut prison system (YCI). All I wanted to do was to talk to my family, especially my son. I was scared, I was depressed, and I was lonely. Eventually I spent almost 4 weeks without talking to my son before I was bailed out. That was the longest I've ever went without any type of family contact.
Obviously most people are arrested because they did something deserving punishment, and I'm included in that statement too. While the purpose of the prison is to deprive life's luxuries from the inmate, contact with family should not be considered a luxury.
While in prison, I simply could not afford to call home. Calls costed on average almost $20 for a 15 minute call. And let's face it, most likely if you're in prison chances are pretty good you come from a poor family, and they have other expenses deserving more attention than putting money in your books for a phone call. And any extra money you have on your books is used to supplement the food you're given. The cliché "prison is for people too poor to afford a lawyer" is indeed true.
But this month something great happened. On August 9, 2013, the FCC voted 2-1 to cap inmate prison call rates, effective immediately. I think the last time I was this excited with an FCC ruling was when they voted to reduce the TV commercial volume with the CALM Act.
I'm not happy because I'll be able to finally call home if I get locked up again, because I've changed most of those behaviors that caused used me to get arrested in the first place, and I'm hoping to never go back. I'm happy because more children can share the good report card with their dad, a daughter can talk about getting her first bra with her mom, or a son can talk to his dad about his first girlfriend. These were conversations many of my "roomies" missed with their kids, had to wait until they were released to have.
My thought after reading the press release was "2-1???? That means someone actually voted against this bill. Who would actually think it's ok to charge a prisoner almost $2 a minute for a simple phone call?" So I went to the FCC's website to find the minutes or the meeting, and the commissioner's name is Rep. Commisioner Ajit Pai.
Here is the reason the commissioner gave for their dissenting vote. "...I do not believe that it is within the Commission's competence to micromanage the prices of
inmate calling services." Really???? If the FCC isn't competent enough to do what it's been regulated to do, then what purpose does it really serve? If I go to work tomorrow, and tell my boss I can't do the job they hired me for because I'm not competent enough, I would be fired. But we already know this commissioner's job is safe. I'm just glad something was finally done about the prison phone racket.
With many states getting a commission of up to 45% on total fees collected, no wonder It took 10 years to finally get a decision on this bill, but it was10 years too late.
Here's Pai's dissenting summary: http://www.fcc.gov/article/doc-32…
Now lets work to get rid of prison privatization!!!!