Should Congress and the Federal Communications Commision establish a cap on prison communication charges?

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

This bill establishes the need for the Federal Communications Commision (FCC) to put in place maximum rates that services may charge for prison communications. Primarily related to phone calls, the bill also charges fees on a per-minute basis instead of per-communication or per-connection. Sponsor: Rep. Bobby L. Rush (Democrat, Illinois, District 1) View full bill text ➔

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Opponents say

At the time of research and publication, no official opponent statements were found. This does not necessarily mean that nobody opposes the bill, nor does it mean that statements won’t be made in the future.

Proponents say

•    "The suspension of in-person visits in prisons and jails across the country due to COVID-19 restrictions made phone calls one of the only ways inmates could stay connected with friends and family. It is heart-wrenching that, as prisons became early petri dishes for the spread of the virus, something as simple as calling to check on the health and safety of a loved one could exact such a heavy financial toll. Furthermore, because most prisoners are paid legal slave wages — if any wages at all — the cost of phone calls is often incurred by the person they are calling. The immense racial disparities in incarceration rates mean that exorbitant phone charges are disproportionately borne by Black family and community members, who have been undeniably hardest-hit by the economic impacts and job losses of the COVID-19 pandemic. Communication with friends and family has been proven to reduce recidivism, while unreasonably high charges can enflame already tense relationships between incarcerated persons and their support systems. Last year, my phone justice legislation passed the House of Representatives as part of the HEROES Act. This year I hope to see it finally signed into law." Source: Rep. Bobby L. Bush (Democrat, Illinois, District 1)