Washington, D.C. of counsel, Lee Petro participated in an interview with the Family Justice Program run by The Vera Institute on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent ruling on lowering rates for interstate phone calls from jails and prisons.

The FCC ruled that the protections under the Communications Act for just and reasonable rates for phone providers must be extended to consumers. The FCC confirmed that they have the statutory obligation to step in when there are unreasonable rates and fees levied against consumers. Lee said the ruling would have a “tremendous impact” for incarcerated people and their families.

He explained that the implications of the ruling are that the FCC established a “safe harbor” benchmark rate cap and an “absolute” rate cap. They established a safe harbor rate cap that they believe fairly compensates phone companies that are providing the service. If a company is charging the safe harbor rate or lower, it doesn’t need to get approval from the FCC.

The next step at the FCC will be to consider rules s will be to that would extend these same rates to intrastate calls and consider rates for those with disabilities. If the FCC extends its ruling to intrastate calls, it wouldn’t cause much disruption, said Lee.

To read the entire interview, click here.