As an incarcerated individual there’s only so much I can do—so I lift up my pen, I lift up that phone, I lift up that brother next door and I lift up the veil that the Administration of the Department of Corruption is so vigorously holding in place.” (Jeffrey Davis)
Acting on its mandate to ensure that rates for phone calls are just, reasonable and fair for all Americans, the Federal Communications Commission today took further steps to rein in the excessive rates and egregious fees on phone calls paid by people trying to stay in touch with loved ones serving time in jail or prison.
With the cost of a call sometimes ballooning to $14 per minute once inside prison walls, the FCC for the first time capped rates for local and in-state long-distance inmate calling, and cut its existing cap on interstate long-distance calls by up to 50 percent.
At the same time, the FCC closed loopholes by barring most add-on fees imposed by inmate calling service (ICS) providers, and set strict limits on the few fees that remain.
Today’s action builds on reforms begun by the FCC in 2013, when it acted on a petition by Martha Wright, a grandmother from Washington, D.C., for relief from the exorbitant rates she was paying to call her grandson in prison. These reforms set an interim cap of 21 cents per minute on interstate debit and prepaid calls, required ICS providers to file cost data. In October 2014, the FCC sought comment on the data and proposed to reform all inmate calling rates and fees.
The Order adopted by the Commission today acts on that data by lowering the cap to 11 cents per minute for all local and long distance calls from state and federal prisons, while providing tiered rates for jails to account for the higher costs of serving jails and smaller institutions.
The new caps fully cover the enhanced security requirements of inmate calling, while allowing providers a reasonable return. Following are key provisions of the Order:
  • Ensures that rates are just, reasonable and fair by establishing caps on all interstate and intrastate inmate calling rates
  • New caps reduce the average rates for the vast majority of inmate calls substantially, from $2.96 to no more than $1.65 for a 15-minute intrastatecall for most calls, and from $3.15 to no more than $1.65 for most 15-minute interstate calls.
  • A tiered rate structure accounts for the relatively higher costs ICS providers face in serving jails (especially small jails) as opposed to state and federal prisons. The rate caps are as follows:
  • 11 cents/minute for debit and prepaid calls in state or federal prisons.
  • 14 cents/minute for debit and prepaid calls in jails with 1,000 or more inmates.
  • 16 cents /minute for debit and prepaid calls in jails with 350-999 inmates.
  • 22 cents /minute for debit and prepaid calls in jails of up to 349 inmates.
  • Allows mandatory taxes and regulatory fees to be passed through with no mark-up.
  • Discourages “site commission” payments: payments by ICS providers to institutions that are not related to providing calling services
  • Disallows providers from imposing so-called “flat-rate calling,” that is, a flat rate for a call up to 15 minutes regardless of actual call duration.
  • Requires providers to offer free access to telephone relay service (TRS) calls for inmates with communications disabilities and applies a steeply discounted rate for TTY-to-TTY calls. (TTY is an acronym for Text Telephone (aka Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). This is a device which is plugged into a telephone line so that deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired (and others) can type up to 30 characters and carry on a conversation rather than by voice. )
Oversight and monitoring
To monitor compliance, ICS providers are required to file data annually with information on rates, fees, site commission payments, the number of TRS-related calls and complaints, and video visitation rates and fees. To ensure transparency for consumers, ICS providers must disclose rates and fees. The rules affecting prisons take effect early in 2016, and the rules affecting jails take effect in mid-2016.

Filing a complaint  If you feel you or a family member has been overcharged by an inmate calling service provider, you can file a complaint with the FCC. You have multiple options for filing a complaint with the FCC:

By mail (please include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

Most states have similar rules for intrastate (within a state) calls. To complain about rates for intrastate collect calls from public phones in prisons, contact the state public utility commission in the state where the call originated and terminated.

SOURCE:  https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B0PYNSjrLWf8NVFyMmJMYUdfRVk&usp=...

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