NYC Becomes First Major City to Make Prison Phone Calls Free

By Free Radicalindex

Inmates in New York City jails will soon be able to make phone calls for free. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio recently passed legislation that will go into effect in a little less than nine months to subsidize this cost that can greatly impact prisoners.

Currently, the city of New York uses Securus which rakes in $2.5 million per year for inmate calls. These costs can limit an incarcerated person’s ability to have much needed conversation with family members and attorneys.

New York’s new legislation makes it the first major city to make such communication free. Prison reform advocates had been pushing for such a measure for years. Nearly 75% of the inmates in New York’s jails have not been convicted of a crime yet are still required to pay phone fees according to Democracy Now.

A contractor will still be commissioned to handle phone calls in New York but now city hall will pick up the tab. Former President Barack Obama capped the price of prison calls in 2015 to stem this burden on inmates. However, a federal court reversed the decision last year, which has not been pursued by President Trump.

It has been a poorly kept secret that phone companies give sizable commissions to states and municipalities for exclusive contacts. Furthermore, inmates who keep consistent contact with famiy members while imprisoned are less likely to return to prison.

Phone companies are just a component of the larger prison industrial complex where prisons and related companies make billions of dollars, often on the back of poorer inmates of color.

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