The Norman Transcript

August 13, 2013

A new cap on phone rates


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — It took nearly a decade of persistent action, but the Federal Communications Commission finally capped the cost of prison inmates telephone calls. It’s a topic that has a limited constituency but shows how companies gouge prisoners who are barred from having cellular telephones for security reasons.

Rates are now capped at 21 cents a minute for debit or prepaid calls and 25 cents a minute for collect calls. Rates fluctuate by facility, with some charging 50 cents to $3.95 to place calls, plus additional per minute rates of anywhere from 5 cents to 89 cents per minute.

Companies have tacked on fees to calls, making an average 15-minute call cost upward of $17 in some cases.

Separately, companies that facilitate family and friends depositing cash in a prisoner’s commissary account deserve scrutiny. Prisons contract that service out, leaving wide discretion in what is charged.