LA Public Service Commission to debate inmate phone fees
Current rates come out to 30 cents per minute
The Louisiana Public Service Commission is expected to vote Wednesday, Dec. 12, on the cost of phone calls for prison inmates.
Public Service Commission Chairman Foster Campbell says discussions will start around 9 AM. He expects a heated debate with a vote to come around 10:30- 11 AM Wednesday.
Campbell says inmates are charged 30 cents a minute for calls- up to 15 times the cost of an ordinary street payphone. He says often this fee is paid by the convict's family who sometimes cannot afford the higher charge.
"What a nice present that we can give to people in Louisiana that are having hard times," Campbell says of lowering fees paid by family members. "Give them a chance to talk to loved one and rehabilitate them better than hopefully just telling them that rates are too high, they can't talk to their kids on the telephone. That's antiquated kind of thinking. It ought to be stopped."
Campbell adds that prison phones are often owned by private companies that require accounts for calls. Campbell says they sometimes charge $7 to open an account and $5 to close one.
This is big business across the state. Campbell says the system collects $4-5 million a year. The sheriff's offices in Caddo and Bossier parishes rake in more than $400 thousand a year in commission from the company that operates prison phones.
Stick with KTBS 3 News on air and on the web for the latest on Wednesday's expected vote.
Copyright 2012 KTBS. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.