Washington, D.C., of counsel Lee Petro’s pro bono FCC case has received significant recent media attention from the New York Times, Bloomberg, Salon and The American Prospect.
Lee works with the Washington Lawyers Committee and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to represent the original petitioner, Martha Wright, before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The action challenges exorbitantly expensive telephone service rates for the incarcerated.
In some states, a collect call from jail can cost up to $2.75 a minute, which is an additional burden for families trying to provide support for incarcerated relatives.
The calls are so expensive because they are placed through independent telephone companies that pay the state a “commission” – what the petitioners contend is essentially a kickback. Martha Wright’s petition is asking the federal government to cap state prison long-distance rates at 25 cents a minute.
The petition, however, has been languishing at the FCC since 2001. Speaking to The American Prospect, Lee said:
"You know the two or three things in the corner of your desk that you might get to if you get through with everything else?" he said, "Martha Wright's petition has been sitting in that pile."
The New York Times editorial says that “the time is long past for the FCC — which has been weighing this issue for nearly a decade — to break up what amount to monopolies and ensure that prisoners across the country have access to reasonably priced interstate telephone service.”
To read the New York Times article, click here.
To read the Bloomberg article, click here.