New York City Waives Fee for Jail Phone Calls

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Photo by Eelke via Flickr

Individuals held in New York City jails no longer need to pay a fee to make a phone call, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said waiving the fee for the city’s 8,000 inmates will keep them better connected to family and friends.

“For too long, people in custody have faced barriers to basic aspects of everyday life that can help create more humane jails,” de Blasio said. “With free phone calls, we’re eliminating one of those barriers.”

Inmates make more than 25,000 calls from the city’s jails each day.

They were previously charged $.50 for the first minute of a call and 5 cents for each additional minute. The fees brought in $5.5 million this fiscal year.

Under a new law, most detained individuals are allowed to make free domestic phone calls of up to 21 minutes every three hours. Single calls are limited to 15 minutes. Inmates in punitive segregation will be limited to one call each day of up to 15 minutes. Some jail phone calls already were free, including calls made by sentenced inmates and indigent detainees, and calls to lawyers. Inmates could make free calls to the city’s 311 program—and made 36,000 last year.

See also: How the Fight for ‘Prison Phone Justice’ Scored a Major Victory

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