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FCC Reduces High Long-Distance Calling Rates Paid by Inmates

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Released: August 9, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

August 9, 2013
Mark Wigfield, 202-418-0253



Reforms Bring Relief to Millions of Families By Reducing the Cost of Interstate Long-Distance Calls

Washington, D.C

. The Federal Communications Commission today took long-overdue steps to ensure
that the rates for interstate long-distance calls made by prison inmates are just, reasonable and fair.
Studies make clear that inmates who maintain contact with family and community while in prison have
reduced rate of recidivism and are more likely to become productive citizens upon their release. Lower
rates of recidivism also benefit society by reducing crime, the need for additional prisons, and other costs.
In addition, an estimated 2.7 million children would benefit from increased communication with an
incarcerated parent. Many of these children face challenges that are manifested in higher rates of truancy,
homelessness, depression and other ills
But the exorbitant price of interstate long-distance calls from correctional facilities today actually
discourages such communication because it is too expensive (over $17 for one 15-minute call),
particularly for families facing economic hardship. The Order takes immediate action to change this and
provide an affordable means to encourage such communication.
The Commission's reforms adopt a simple and balanced approach that protects security and public safety
needs, ensures providers receive fair compensation while providing reasonable rates to consumers as
Requires that all interstate inmate calling rates, including ancillary charges, be based on the cost
of providing the inmate calling service
Provides immediate relief to exorbitant rates:
o Adopts an interim rate cap of $0.21 per minute for debit and pre-paid calls and $0.25 per
minute for collect calls, dramatically decreasing rates of over $17 for a 15-minute call to
no more than $3.75 or $3.15 a call
o Presumes that rates of $0.12 per minute for debit and prepaid calls ($1.80 for a 15-minute
call) and $0.14 cents per minute for collect calls ($2.10 for a 15-minute call) are just,
reasonable and cost-based (safe-harbor rates)
o These rates include the costs of modern security features such as advanced mechanisms
that block calls to victims, witnesses, prosecutors and other prohibited parties; biometric

caller verification; real-time recording systems; and monitoring to prevent evasion of
restrictions on call-forwarding or three-way calling
Concludes that "site commissions" payments from providers to correctional facilities may not be
included in any interstate rate or charge
Clarifies that inmates or their loved ones who use Telecommunications Relay Services because of
hearing and speech disabilities may not be charged higher rates
Requires a mandatory data collection, annual certification requirement, and enforcement
provisions to ensure compliance with this Order
Seeks comment on reforming rates and practices affecting calls within a state
Seeks comment on fostering competition to reduce rates
Building on state reforms, the Commission's action addresses a petition filed nearly a decade ago by
Martha Wright, a Washington, D.C. grandmother who sought relief from exorbitant inmate calling rates.
Since then, tens of thousands have urged the FCC to make it possible for them to stay in touch with loved
ones in jail.
Action by the Commission August 9, 2013, by Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (FCC 13-113). Acting Chairwoman Clyburn and Commissioner Rosenworcel with
Commissioner Pai dissenting. Acting Chairwoman Clyburn, Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai
issuing statements.
Staff contact: Lynne Engledow at 202-418-1520 or
News about the Federal Communications Commission can also be found
on the Commission's web site

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