The Federal Communications Commission on Friday approved rules to overhaul skyrocketing prison phone rates, dealing a blow to the handful of companies that dominate the market.
In a 2 to 1 decision, the agency voted to immediately cap how much prison phone-service providers can charge the recipients of an inmate’s call at 25 cents per-minute so that a 15-minute long-distance call won’t exceed $3.75. The FCC also banned the providers from charging extra fees to connect a call or use a calling card.
The federal order affects a previously unregulated segment of the telecommunications industry and aims to end the explosion of prison calling costs that have reached as much as $20 for a
15-minute call in some states.
The order also resolves a
decade-long fight by District resident Martha Wright, whose petition to the FCC languished until acting Chairman Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, revived it last year. Wright, now 86, had fought for changes to the system after she struggled to afford to call her grandson in an Arizona prison.