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Congresswoman Clarke Commends Lower Rates for Inmate Calling Services

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement on the decision by the Federal Communications Commission to reduce the cost of telephone calls from jails and prisons from  $2.96 to a maximum of $1.65 for a fifteen-minute intrastate call and from $3.15 to a maximum of $1.65 for a fifteen-minute interstate call and will eliminate fees that often substantially increased the cost of a telephone call to as much as $17 for each minute. The lower rates for telephone calls will allow individuals who are incarcerated to maintain connections to their families and friends, supporting their rehabilitation and ultimately their successful return to society.

“The more than two millions individuals who are currently incarcerated in the United States are effectively separated from the institutions such as family and community that are critical to their rehabilitation and return to our civil society. The extortionate rates charged for telephone calls with people in jail or in prison impose serious harms on incarcerated individuals and their families, preventing them from maintaining the relationships that are often required to find a job or a permanent home after their release. As the Honorable Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has explained, the current charges for telephone calls from jail or prison exceed the actual cost of connecting the calls, providing substantial profits for prisons and private service providers. The decision today will allow millions of people to maintain important connections that support them in rebuilding their lives. In addition, lower rates for telephone calls will allow incarcerated individuals improved access to access the legal services that are their right under the Sixth Amendment,” said Congresswoman Clarke, who sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recommending lower rates for inmate calling services.

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, the Committee on Ethics and the Committee of Small Business in the House of Representatives, proudly represents Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, Park Slope, Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.