May 11, 2012
Being able to connect with family members on Mother's Day is important to so many of us. But, for the more than two million people incarcerated in the United States, that connection can come at a steep price.
Making phone calls from prison is expensive, and up to 60 percent of what prisoners' families pay to speak to their loved ones has nothing to do with the actual cost of the phone service. The high rates of prison phone calls are the result of contracts between prisons and telephone companies. These contracts are awarded based on which company proposes the highest kickback to the prison, not who offers the cheapest rates.
NOW is working with allied organizations to right this injustice. Our friends at the Prison Phone Justice Campaign are hosting a Mother's Day of Action, asking the Federal Communications Commission to use its power to address the high cost of prison phone calls. They are working to collect 1,000 stories from people speaking up for the rights of prisoners and their families to stay connected.
What can you do?
One: Share your story. Fill out this online postcard and we'll submit your story to the Federal Communications Commission. (You can also record your story by calling 877-518-0606.)
Two: Tweet the postcard. Help us get to our goal of 1,000 stories by sharing the postcard through social media. Remember to use the hashtag #phonejustice.
Sample Tweet: We want #phonejustice for prisoners. Tell the FCC to address the high cost of prison phone calls. Share your story http://j.mp/K9iPux
Three: Get organized. Download this toolkit and start organizing in your community.
Did you know that 75 percent of incarcerated women have a child under 18 years of age? Or that women, on average, are imprisoned 160 miles away from home? Women, low-income people and people of color are all unduly burdened by steep prison phone rates.
Thanks to a bidding system that rewards prisons with inflated commission payments, prisoners are charged exorbitant rates in most states. This hampers prisoners' ability to assist in their defense and to stay connected with their families -- both of which are critical to a successful transition from incarceration back into the community.
In addition, excessive phone charges undermine the economic security of family members who shoulder the costs of these calls -- disproportionately mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends. Imagine a grandmother worried about the incarcerated grandson she helped raise. Or a child growing up with a mother or father in prison. Trying to preserve family bonds while a member is in prison is hard enough already, and exorbitant prison phone rates only make things that much harder. The practice has gone on long enough and needs to be stopped.
Fill out the online postcard NOW.
Thank you for your participation!