A blow for human decency in corrections was just struck by Texas prison system, literally the last place one would expect, where they have lowered the cost of inmate calls by 77%:
The Texas prison system on Friday voted to drastically slash the cost of inmate calls home by more than 75 percent with a new phone contract more favorable to inmates and their families.
Now, instead of paying an average of 26 cents per minute, prisoners will pay 6 cents per minute – no matter the destination of the call. Also, the limit on phone calls was increased from 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
“That is just fabulous, thank you so much – it means so much,” said Jennifer Erschabek of the Texas Inmate Families Association. “I’m speechless.”
The shift, which drew accolades from lawmakers and activists alike, comes amid national conversations about the price of prison phone calls. Last year, a federal court struck down an Obama-era Federal Communications Commission rule that would have capped the costs at 11 cents per minute.
Though that was seen as a blow to the hard-fought efforts of inmate advocates nationwide, Friday’s contract approval represented a win for advocates in the Lone Star State.
“This should have done it a long time ago,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. “I’ve raised hell for years about how they were gouging inmates and their families.”
Currently, a 15-minute call usually costs around $3.90, officials said at the Texas Board of Criminal Justice meeting.
Starting Sept. 1 when the new contract takes effect, a typical 15-minute call will cost just 90 cents.
The idea that the Texas correctional system would do something this humane truly boggles the mind.