The New York City council voted this past week to give prisoners free phone calls when calling their family. The move, advocated for by council member Corey Johnson, will save prisoners and their families roughly $8 million a year in fees currently charged by Secures Technologies.
Prisoner phone calls costly for families
Secures Technologies, the largest communication provider for those incarcerated, charges an initial fee of 50 cents with a 5 cents charge thereafter per minute for calls made within New York, according to HRW. A high cost many inmates and their families cannot afford to keep in touch with one another.
“Families and friends of incarcerated individuals should not have to choose between hearing from their loved ones and paying their bills just because these individuals cannot afford to pay for phone calls,” Johnson said.
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“Introduction 741-A will guarantee that individuals who are in custody in our jails do not have to pay to stay in touch with the people who support them and ensure the City does not make any money off these phone calls.”
Brooklyn Defender Services, a legal organization that believes strongly in giving prisoners free phone calls, believes the move will alleviate families living in poverty who try to stay connected to their loved ones within the city’s correctional facilities.
“Thousands of people in NYC jails are there solely because a court set money bail beyond what they could afford, 88 percent are Black and/or Latinx, and nearly all experience deep poverty,” Brooklyn Defender Services wrote in a statement on Facebook.
“Now, they will be able to maintain crucial lifelines to loved ones in the community without sacrificing scarce dollars for the profits of jail profiteer Securus.”
The newly voted on policy will now be sent to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his signature to put the bill in place, according to Pix11.