March 21, 2013
Communicating with others -- whether on a personal or community-wide level -- is critical to promoting safety, security, empowerment and social change. Here are two important communications issues where your participation can help make a real difference. The time to act on both of them is NOW, so please read on...
Fight Discriminatory Prison Phone Rates
Ten years ago Martha Wright, who was struggling to afford the high cost of phone calls with her incarcerated grandson, filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calling for the agency to help clean up an abusive system.
In most states in the U.S., prisoners are charged excessive phone rates -- thanks to phone companies rewarding prisons with inflated commissions. Consequently, a 15-minute call that costs less than a dollar in a New York prison (one of the few states that has banned these kickbacks), can cost upwards of $15 in another state.
Excessive phone charges disproportionately affect women, who are left to shoulder the costs of these calls -- often mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends. But women, burdened by a gender wage gap -- and women of color who bear the additional burden of race-based discrimination -- find it especially difficult to absorb these costs. Trying to make ends meet and preserve family bonds while a loved one is in prison is hard enough; exorbitant prison phone rates only add to the hardship.
Those disproportionately affected also include incarcerated women, 75 percent of whom have a child under the age of 18. Since most of these women are imprisoned 160 miles away from their homes, unfair phone rates can hinder them from getting in touch with their children and those caring for them.
The Campaign for Prison Phone Justice is gathering signatures telling the FCC to finally respond to Martha Wright's appeal by promoting fair prison phone rates in U.S. prisons. Add your name to their petition, and don't delay -- the FCC's deadline for comments is March 25!
Take action NOW
Join the Low-Power Radio Movement
Women and people of color have long been under-represented in media ownership positions. According to our friends at Free Press: While women are 51 percent of the U.S. population, they hold less than seven percent of all TV and radio station licenses. And people of color make up more than 36 percent of the U.S. population but hold just over seven percent of radio licenses and three percent of TV licenses. The further consolidation of mainstream media is only going to make things worse.
But low-power radio offers a unique opportunity to those groups typically locked out of media ownership. This fall the FCC will open a brief window during which nonprofits and other groups can apply for free, local FM radio licenses. You should consider making that application! Community radio is an incredible way to help spread information about feminist issues and inspire members of your community to get involved.
Applying for a radio license and running a station might sound daunting, but Prometheus Radio Project can help you get started. On March 27, you can learn more by attending an hour-long webinar at either 2:00 pm or 8:00 pm. Register today! Or if you know someone else who might be interested, like the women's studies department at your local university, please forward this message to them right away.
Learn more NOW
Thanks for helping NOW and its allies promote social justice for women and their families through fair and expanded communications within our communities.