Throughout the history of the U.S. prison system, a debate has long raged about the proper price of an outgoing phone call. One of the main issues that has arisen is the fact that jurisdictions may vary wildly in the priced that inmates are charged. This can be seen across the country, even at the state level, where states like Arizona charge up to $1.50 per minute to make outgoing phone calls while neighboring states may charge as little as $0.15 per minute for the same service.
This is giving rise to many horror stories. For example, Heather Kofalt has been forced to pay more than $3,000 per year to stay in contact with her incarcerated husband. In fact, her husband was convicted of nothing more than stealing $400 worth of dental accessories. Unfortunately, it ended up being his third strike, sending him to prison for a number of years. In order to stay in contact with her husband, Heather Kofalt has been forced to pay incredibly high amounts of money each week. This is a direct result of the deal that the prison phone company, Global Tel Link, has struck with that particular institution. The company is paying up to 90 percent of all revenues generated through calling taking place on it systems back to the institution.
Deals such as this are common in the prison phone industry. Known as legal kickbacks, these commissions that prison phone companies pay to the institution in which they are allowed to operate can constitute significant revenues for the prisons themselves. Although cases involving rates as exorbitant as those in the case of Heather Kofalt do exist, the truth is that the majority of prisons in which Global Tel Link operates give inmates rates as low as $0.15 per minute. At these rates, it is possible for the majority of inmates to stay in nearly constant touch with their loved ones, leading to strong and lasting relationships, even the inmates themselves go through a difficult life circumstance.