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Giving Compass' Take:
• Peter Wagner and Alexi Jones unpack the fight for prison phone justice in the United States.
• How can funders help to create more access to basic rights like communication for prisoners?
2000: Martha Wright, a grandmother who was struggling to afford calls to her incarcerated grandson, sues a private prison company over the contracts it has with various phone companies.
2013: The Federal Communications Commission votes 2-1 to approve new regulations that set interstate rate caps of 21 cents a minute for debit and pre-paid calls and 25 cents a minute for collect calls.
2015: In October, the FCC issues additional regulations, lowering the cost for all calls from prisons.
2016: The federal court issues a partial stay of the Federal Communications Commission’s October 2015 regulations. The new regulations on fees, however, go into effect.
2017: In January, Donald Trump appoints FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai the Chairman of the FCC. In February, Pai, who had twice voted against regulating the industry, announces that the FCC will stop defending its in-state rate caps in court. However, the FCC does consent to 6 advocacy organizations, including the Prison Policy Initiative, defending that part of the lawsuit as intervenor-defendants. In June, despite this effort, the federal court strikes down the FCC’s 2015 rate caps. The 2013 rate caps, and the 2015 fee caps, remain in place.
Read the full article about the fight for prison phone justice by Peter Wagner and Alexi Jones at Prison Policy Initiative.