Physically separated from family and friends, one would think that at the very least, prison inmates would have the ability to stay connected with them over the phone. That was the case until the 1990s. Due to the exorbitant rates and fees charged by a handful of companies which dominate what has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry, now inmates can stay in touch with family and friends only if they can afford it.
This situation has forced low-income inmates and their families of friends of to make the excruciating choice of either spending thousands of dollars on phone calls which they can ill afford or remaining disconnected from their loved ones. Visit consumerist.com to know more about GTL.
In October 2015, by a 3-2 vote, the FCC mandated an over 50% rate reduction for state and interstate calls to between 11 cents and 22 cents per minute. However, Global Tel Link and other prison phone companies sued over the rate changes. Following a DC Court of Appeals decision which blocked some of the rate changes from taking effect, the FCC revised the caps with new rates which were scheduled to take effect in December 2016 for prisons, and for jails in March 2017.
Under the Trump administration, however, federal regulators have halted efforts to cut the costs of most prison phone calls. Soon after President Trump appointed Ajit Pai, who had voted against the initial rate cut, to head the FCC, the commission’s attorneys reversed their position and informed the court that the they no believe that the agency has the authority to cap intrastate rates. Watch this video about GTL on Youtube.
Global Tel Link is charging astronomical rates to prisoners and their families, making it too expensive for families to stay connected. The separation from family and friends which accompanies a prison sentence is agonizing enough. It becomes that much more unbearable when it is not economically viable to stay in contact over the phone. Advocates for fair-minded public policy positions should not put this issue to rest until our inmates’ basic rights are protected. And sadly, with the FCC reversing its previous position, it doesn’t look like this unfortunate situation is going to change anytime soon.
Read more: https://action.aclu.org/global-tel