Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Spitzer: Prison calls' cost to drop

Newsday ZACHARY R. DOWDY

It is hard enough for a family that a loved one is behind bars.....then to penalize them and profit from their misery is just not right..........andy

New York families who regularly get phone calls from loved ones behind bars were ecstatic yesterday when Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced that calls from prisons will soon be a lot cheaper. Spitzer said he is eliminating a "tax" that hikes the cost of the collect calls and gives the state a 58 percent kickback on the cost of each call. "Soon, no one will be cut off from their family just so the Department of Corrections and some telephone company can make a profit," said Ivey Walton, lead plaintiff in a lawsuit on behalf of families who speak with loved ones in state prisons. Advocates said the lawsuit, which will be argued today before the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, will still go forward. The point would be to prevent the possibility that such an arrangement, in which relatives of prisoners pay much more for phone calls than other consumers, can happen again. Families will see their phone bills drop at the start of the new fiscal year on April 1, when the state's 10-year contract with Verizon expires. Under the contract, which allows prisoners to make only collect calls, families pay a $3 surcharge and a 16-cent-per-minute rate for each call. State correction officials have used that money, which generated tens of millions of dollars each year, to pay for inmate programs. But families forced to pay the toll see it as a double tax, as they also pay state income taxes."... The newly proposed rates will charge only the cost of the call...," read a statement from Spitzer's office. "The elimination of this commission will reduce the cost of these calls by at least 50 percent."

Comments:
Those rates really don't sound too bad for a collect call. Now Spitzer needs to go after Verizon for hiking up the price of putting a collect call on the phone bill so that the rate could be lowered even more.

Verizon is still charging the new inmate phone provider about $1 per call for the privilege to put that charge on the family member's verizon phone bill. If Spitzer could get Verizon to lower that charge then additional saving could be passed onto the family members of the inmates.
 
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