Until the 1990s, inmates could call lawyers and family members at rates similar to those outside prison walls. The prison phone system is now a $1.2 billion-a-year industry dominated by a few companies that manage phones in prisons and jails in all 50 states, setting rates and fees far in excess of those charged by regular commercial providers, the New York Times reports. The business is so considerable — 500 million prison and jail phone calls totaling more than six billion . . .
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