After Years of Complaints, FCC Slashes Prison Phone Rates


Ending a decade-long effort, the Federal Communications Commission has set a nationwide cap on the rates inmates and their families and friends can be charged for interstate telephone services, reports the Tennessean. Under the order approved Friday on a 2-1 vote, calls made by debit or prepaid cards will be assumed to be “just and reasonable” if they don’t exceed 12 cents per minute, while collect calls will be presumed reasonable at 14 cents per minute.

Telephone companies will be allowed to petition for an exception to those caps, but an absolute cap of 21 cents per minute will apply for debit and prepaid card calls, while an absolute cap of 25 cents per minute will apply for collect calls. The order also bars prison telephone companies from charging inmates for commissions paid to state and local prisons. A 15-minute call that now costs $17 will cost only $3.75.

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