Louisiana Prison Phone Rates
Second Attempt To Reduce Cost Of LA Prison Calls
On December 12th the chairman and vice chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission will again ask their colleagues to lower rates for telephone calls between Louisiana prison inmates and their families.
The five-member LPSC deadlocked in November when District 3 Commissioner Lambert Boissiere III abstained on the plan by Chairman Foster Campbell and Vice Chairman Jimmy Field to cut inmate phone rates by 25 percent and eliminate illegal add-on fees.
“On December 12th Commissioner Field and I will restate and expand our arguments for lowering the outrageous calling costs imposed on inmate families,” Campbell said.
An LPSC investigation of inmate calling begun in April 2011 revealed that collect calls from Louisiana jails average 30 cents a minute, not including unauthorized fees for funding accounts and getting refunds.
“The rates charged for inmate phone calls are, in many instances, not just and reasonable, so corrective action is necessary,” Field said.
Louisiana incarcerates nearly 40,000 people in 170 state and local jails – the highest number of people behind bars per capita in the world.
“It is not the inmates but their wives, children, parents and grandparents who pay 30 cents a minute to stay in touch with their relatives in jail,” Campbell said.
“That is 15 times higher than calls on the outside.”
Campbell said high rates for prison calls prevent inmates from staying in touch with family members, a crucial aspect of their rehabilitation.
“Even the American Correctional Association says inmate calls should be roughly the same price as calls on the outside. Why should correctional facilities in Louisiana be any different?”
The LPSC investigation of prison telephones is not its first. In the early 1990s the Commission found widespread abuses including exorbitant rates, double-billing and time illegally added to calls.
The Commission ordered more than $1 million in refunds. The Commission meeting Wednesday in downtown Baton Rouge. The meeting is open to the public.