December 27, 2013 1:42 pm -

Texas based Securus Technologies is making a killing by overcharging prisoners making calls to the outside world. They serve more than 2,000 correctional facilities in 45 states across the country. Inmates, their families and now even the FCC are acting to remedy this troubling situation.

Bay City, Michigan resident Fred Zaplitny, an 87-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran, was outraged after noticing the excessive price of talking to his imprisoned son.

Zaplitny said the call cost him about $15. He compared it to calls his son had placed from a Jackson prison in January, February and March which lasted 10, 11 and 15 minutes and cost $2, $2.20 and $3, respectively. He said he believes the cost of the call from the Bay County Jail was exorbitant. “The county is making money off the backs of the poor people in Bay County,” Zaplitny said. “That’s exactly what they’re doing. I’m not complaining because I can’t afford it; I’m not indigent. I think it’s patently wrong.”

The problem of gouging inmates and their families for phone calls has caught the attention of the Federal Communications Commission which has been working toward a solution.

In August, the FCC approved an order mandating states to charge inmates no more than $0.25 per minute for interstate collect calls and no more than $0.21 per minute for interstate debit or prepaid calls. The following month, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued an order prohibiting inmate calling service providers such as Securus from blocking lower-cost call routing services. The FCC made the push for more regulated, reduced rates as a measure to likewise reduce inmates’ return to incarceration.

Mark Quincy Adams