DRAFT Resolution to Promote Public Safety through Just and Reasonable Prison Phone Rates Exposed

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Model Bill Info
Bill Title Resolution to Promote Public Safety through Just and Reasonable Prison Phone Rates
Date Introduced December 4, 2014
Date Amended January 9, 2015
Date Accessed May 3, 2018
Type Model Policy
Status Final
Task Forces Criminal Justice
Keywords Criminal Justice

Resolution to Promote Public Safety through Just and Reasonable Prison Phone Rates

Resolution to Promote Public Safety through Just and Reasonable Prison Phone Rates


This resolution supports efforts by states to provide reasonable phone rates for intrastate calls placed from correctional facilities in order protect public safety by encouraging contact between incarcerated individuals and their families and friends.

Model Resolution

WHEREAS, over 1.3 million people are currently in state prisons in the United States and approximately 568,000 were released in 2013;[1]

WHEREAS, research has shown that maintaining family relationships in prison and jail is a significant factor in reducing recidivism and increasing the likelihood that formerly incarcerated individuals will secure a job and abstain from drugs and other criminal activity;[2]

WHEREAS, maintaining contact with family members by telephone is often extremely difficult for incarcerated men and women due to the exorbitant rate of prison phone charges;

WHEREAS, state departments of correction often contract with a single communications provider, allow that company to charge for services at rates far above the market price and what is necessary to cover security measures, and then receive substantial commissions from company revenues;[3]

WHEREAS, the Federal Communications Commission passed a rule capping rates for interstate prison calls between 21 to 25 cents-per-minute in August, 2013;[4]

WHEREAS, states are best positioned to assess the particular needs of their own state correctional facilities to regulate intrastate calls;

WHEREAS, several states have successfully lowered prison phone rates through measures to cap existing rates, but the majority of states have not yet acted;[5]

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that [insert state] develop legislation to set rates for intrastate calls from prisons, jails, juvenile, and other correctional facilities, at just and reasonable rates consistent with market rates while accounting for security measures.

Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors January 9, 2015.


[1] E. ANN CARSON, U.S. DEP’T OF JUST., OFF. OF JUST. PROGRAMS, BUREAU OF JUST. STAT., NCJ 236096, PRISONERS IN 2013 [at] 1, 10 (rev. Oct. 24, 2014), available at https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p13.pdf.

[2] See, e,g., Creasie Finney Hairston et al., Children, Families, and the Criminal Justice System: Family Connections During Imprisonment and Prisoners’ Community Reentry 3 (Jane Addams Ctr. for Soc. Pol’y and Res., Research Brief, Winter 2004), available at http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/college/research_public_service/files/familyconnections.pdf; Christy Visher et al., Baltimore Prisoners’ Experiences Returning Home 6 (Urban Institute March 2004), available at http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/310946_BaltimorePrisoners.pdf; The Center on the Admin. of Criminal Law 2013 Comments at 9-10 (citing Nancy G. La Vigne, Examining the Effect of Incarceration and In-Prison Family Contact on Prisoners’ Family Relationships, 21 J. OF CONTEMP. CRIM. JUSTICE 314, 316 (2005)).

[3] See John E. Dannenberg, Nationwide PLN Survey Examines Prison Phone Contracts, Kickbacks, PRISON LEGAL NEWS 16 (Apr. 2011) (Providing a chart indicating that states received over $152 million in kickback funds) , available at https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/media/issues/04pln11.pdf.

[4] Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services, 78 Fed. Reg. 67,956 (Nov. 13, 2013) (to be codified at 47 C.F.R. pt. 64).

[5] See, e.g., supra note 3; John Dannenberg, FCC Order Heralds Hope for Reform of Prison Phone Industry, Prison Legal News, Dec. 1, 2013 (stating that at least four states, including New Mexico, Rhode Island, New York, and South Carolina, charge less than $1.00 for a 15-minute intrastate call for all types of calls), available at https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2013/dec/15/fcc-order-heralds-hope-for-reform-of-prison-phone-industry/.