Posted by 27 August 2018
When inmates call family or friends from jail, it can be costly. In New York City, however, inmates may soon be able to do something unprecedented – make jailhouse calls for free.
Prior to legislation recently passed by the city council, in-state calls from New York City jails cost 5 cents a minute, while out-of-state calls cost 21 cents a minute. The company that provided phone services only allowed prisoners to put $50 on an account at one time, with a $3 fee every time that account received more money.
With many people in jail because they cannot find money to pay bail, these fees and charges added up. This led to a movement by prisoners and their families to either reduce the amount being charged or make the calls free.
New York City Council members initially supported a bill that would end the city’s ability to profit off of the telecommunication services. Advocates pressed them to end charges completely for the calls, which is what the city council eventually passed in mid-summer.
Those who support this measure say that high charges and fees for calls are unfair for struggling families. They contend that the private companies running these services are making huge profits off of a population that has no choice but to pay their extremely high charges. Opponents of the measure counter that these services come with a cost, and it is only right for prisoners and their families to pay for them.
With an end to charges on jail calls in New York, there are now efforts in other cities to do the same.
Do you think that it is fair to charge prisoners high fees for jailhouse calls? Should jailhouse calls be free?