Lee Petro, of counsel to the Washington, D.C., office, conducted two press briefings regarding a pro bono case he’s been handling related to telephone service rates for the incarcerated. Several media outlets covered the briefings.
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.
Lee, who acts as pro bono counsel petitioning the FCC on the issue, said the high rates are because of monopolies that benefit phone companies and give commissions or "kickbacks" to state governments.
"In states where there are pre-existing contracts that involve commissions that are being paid to the local governments or state governments, a 15-minute phone call can cost more than $20," he said.
Lee also noted that high prison phone prices can drive a wedge between inmates and their families that, in the long run, burdens society.
"It's a proven fact, over and over again, that the level of contact they had while they were in prison - with their family and their social network - renders their re-entry into society more beneficial, more stable, and they are less likely to commit crime down the line," he said.
During the May 18 briefing, Lee stated that “[t]he plight of the families of inmates paying exorbitant telephone rates to remain in contact with their loved ones has languished at the FCC for more than 10 years. With the resolution of other long-pending matters, the recent additions of two new Commissioners, and new technologies developed by the service providers that has decreased their costs of service, prompt action now will give relief to struggling families in these tough economic times."
Separately, Lee was quoted in an article for Legal Times, Colorlines, and for the Center for Media Justice, who are also covering this issue.
To read about the May 10 briefing, click here.
To read about the May 18 briefing and letter to the FCC, click here
To read coverage in the Legal Times, please click here:
To read additional coverage in Colorlines and on the Center for Media Justice website, click here and here.