Friday, July 12, 2013

Prison Phone Justice Press Statement

WASHINGTON DC- Today the Federal Communications Commission hosted a day-long workshop to discuss possible reforms to prison telephone calls. Over 100 family members of prisoners, advocates and state regulators from across the country were in attendance while thousands watched online and demonstrated their support for FCC action. Representatives of the prison telephone industry attended and were asked to explain the exorbitant costs of prison calls that families of prisoners are struggling to afford.

Commission staff heard from advocates and regulators who talked about the importance of phone calls to prisoners in maintaining relationships with their families and its impact to lowering recidivism.

Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) were in attendance to talk about the implications of high prison phone rates for their constituents. "One thing makes a difference in recidivism, and that's the ability to maintain contact with loved ones," said Congresswoman Norton.

The following statement can be attributed to Amalia Deloney, Associate Director at the Center for Media Justice and representative of the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice:

“Today’s workshop marks a significant step forward in what has become a decade long fight to secure fair and affordable phone rates. In addition to the compelling evidence in the docket, today’s workshop—and the online and in person turn out demonstrates that the public is ready for a resolution. Today’s testimony leaves no doubt that the commission has the information it needs to bring this issue to conclusion and in doing so could bring relief to the millions of families struggling to keep up with the prison phone bills. We want to especially thank Chairwoman Clyburn for her leadership in today’s workshop and for her continued passion to speak out on behalf of the 2.7 million children who have a parent in prison.”

Families and advocates from Social Action Linking Together (SALT), a social justice organization from Virginia who supports lowering prison phone rates, traveled to Washington D.C. to attend today’s workshop. John Horejsi, SALT Coordinator, said the following:

“In Virginia the prison system currently financially burdens families and prevents frequent communications between incarcerated persons and their family members, thereby weakening the family and community ties necessary for successful reentry into society and the reduction in crime resulting from successful reentry. Virginia’s prisons should be in the business of advancing all that strengthens families and makes for safe communities. To correct this injustice, reform is needed to make certain that the telephone rates at state correctional facilities are at the lowest available rates.”

Some commissioners have vowed to ensure that the families that have been fighting for over a decade for prison phone justice have resolution this year. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel told families today the following: "When a decision comes before me, I want to be able to vote it first, I want to be able to vote it fast."

About the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice:

The Campaign for Prison Phone Justice is a national effort challenging high prison phone rates, including kickbacks to prisons from providers. We are advocating across the country for those entities that have authority over the rates to lower them where they are not reasonable. The campaign is jointly led by the Media Action Grassroots Network, Working Narratives, Prison Legal News and diverse civil and human rights organizations. 

Steven Renderos, National Organizer
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