Pressure mounts for action on prison phone rates

Pressure is mounting on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the cost of prison telephone calls in the United States. The Congressional Black Caucus and private citizens are urging the FCC to take action on the issue.

Inmates pay high rates for use of telephones, sometimes up to $16 for a 15 minute state-to-state call. Prisons typically have exclusive deals with carriers to provide service and regularly receive large commissions in return. The FCC has deemed these interstate inmate calling services a government-sponsored monopoly and called for public comment on proposed regulations.

The period for feedback ended in April, and the FCC is in the process of reviewing the comments in order to draft new rules. However, no set dates for voting and possible implementation have been announced.