Civil rights and conservative groups have banded together to ask the Federal Communications Commission to end “exorbitant” fees that many prisons charge inmates to make phone calls, Legal Times reports. It can cost 10 times more to call anyone from prison than it does to call Singapore from a cellphone, said Wade Henderson of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. A 15-minute collect call from prison typically costs $10 to $17 – rates that garnered $152 million in revenue for prisons in 2011. “These are predatory rates for a literally captive audience,” he said.
David Keene, former chairman of the American Conservative Union, agreed. “It's a tax directly on the poorest people in our society,” he said. “It makes no sense to cut off or make it impossible for prisoners to communicate with their families.” Coalition members said phone contact helps prisoners maintain ties with their families, and that the most important factor in a successful rehabilitation is a strong, intact family. The issue has languished before the FCC for a decade.