back to article Want to slash your phone bill? Go to jail. Go directly to jail

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has slashed phone call prices for prisoners. The FCC considered prison call rates because they're often exorbitant: some prisons outsource the phones used for “inmate calling services” (ICS) and receive payment for doing so. Providers of ICS then charge prices rather …

  1. Charles Manning

    Generally I don't care what happens to people who choose to impose prison on themselves....

    But $14/minute is criminal!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps those charging these Criminal Rates...

      ... should join their captive customers inside.

    2. Nehmo

      We'll see what you say when it happens to you. If you read the news, you can see it's not impossible in America.

    3. Graham Marsden
      Boffin

      @Charles Manning

      > I don't care what happens to people who choose to impose prison on themselves....

      "With less than 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly 25 percent of its incarcerated population, the United States imprisons more people than any other nation in the world – largely due to the war on drugs. Misguided drug laws and draconian sentencing requirements have produced profoundly unequal outcomes for communities of color. Although rates of drug use and selling are comparable across racial and ethnic lines, blacks and Latinos are far more likely to be criminalized for drug law violations than whites."

      http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/drug-war-mass-incarceration-and-race

  2. John Tserkezis

    Ah, now I understand why they smuggle cell phones into prison, wrapped in a condom and shoved up their arses. It's STILL cheaper than the prison phones. And all this time they've been telling us it was for drug deals...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but the reception can be sh*t..

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        "Yes, but the reception can be sh*t.."

        How would you know? I think you're talking out of your arse.

  3. Rol Silver badge

    Perhaps the huge difference in the prison populations of America and the UK might be down to the fact American judges feel obligated to lock up nuisances regardless of how poor the neighbourhood is in which the crimes are committed.

    1. Nehmo

      I don't know about the UK, but the motivation in the US is money. Somehow, the judges (and the rest of the legal system) get paid per warm body. Read this ex-Officer's explanation http://www.dirtycopperstopper.com/docs/Arrest%20Proof%20Yourself.pdf

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Woa... that's nuts...

    One of the most hidden statistics of USSR (one you could end up in a "nice place" for openly discussing it) was that in the 1980-es it had jointly with USA the highest prison rate in the world. In those days (25 years ago) it was 290 per 100,000 - several times more than most European countries.

    However 716 per 100,000 is simply nuts. This is approaching one percent of the population being in prison.

    Land of the free. For a given set of values of free.

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Woa... that's nuts...

      Well, in some states, if you steal three cakes, the third time you go to prison for life (three strikes law).

      Also, a reallyt big portion of those incarcerated have drug related sentences... you know, "war on drugs" that only benefits the prison owners.

      In the uk, if you kill somebody while drunk you might not even go to prison, and that is absurd.

    2. Queasy Rider

      Re: Woa... that's nuts...

      Not at all. America's most precious right is encapsulated in that moniker "Land of the Free". Obviously, what better punishment could there be than to take away that freedom? Sadly, the public's thinking seldom gets much deeper than that, which is why politicians pushing policies such as getting tough on crime, and the notorious '3 strikes and you're out' have such resonance with the voting public.

  5. Daniel Hall
    Coat

    And this has exactly what to do with going to prison in the UK?

    And a 15 minute call across your own country for $1.65 isnt exactly cheap compared to todays services is it, if you live in the UK...

    Some of these reg articles are utter crap or not relatable to us UK netizens

    1. AC Wilson

      Well, Goll-lee! How damn nice of the Reg to allow us in the US to read its pages. I wasn't aware of how privileged we were, thank you for informing me.

  6. Nehmo

    I've been complaining about this price gouging for years. I and my friends have gone to jail many times, usually for traffic, which is not a minor as it sounds, but sometimes serious possession.

    The facility gets more than half the money. That's the best info I've ever gotten about the breakdown of how the revenue is shared.

    The story basically shows that the real criminals are the people in the justice system.

    We'll see how well the new policy is implemented.

    1. Sooty

      I assumed it was an intentional control measure, you play nice and work in the prison, to earn the money required to contact your family.

      I never even thought it would be "real" money going to a third party though, I assumed you get paid by the prison to do work, then you pay the prison back to make calls, get luxuries, etc.

      1. Alan Edwards

        It's all reverse-charges in the US isn't it? The charges are paid by the people the prisoners are calling?

        I remember from a US program I was watching (possibly Orange Is The New Black) - there is an automated call to the person the prisoner is calling telling them it's from a prison and asking if they accept the charges.

        1. Josh 14

          When an uncle was in prison, (not drug related, he earned it...) we would occasionally get the automated calls asking if we would accept charges for a call from an inmate at *name of prison here*.

          I never heard what the pricing was, but it was always a collect call.

      2. midcapwarrior

        At the going rate for prisoner pay a 15 minute call would cost a week's wage.

        At the county/city jail level calls are a significant profit center based on the split they get with the provider

        .

        Providers say the price is higher because of the requirement for monitoring and transcripts.

        Course with current tech that should no longer be much of cost issue.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't go there!

    I've been in a few prisons, I used to be part of a theatre company that performed in them. My lingering memory is that of the smell of cabbage and bleach. In my bathroom I have a framed invitation from the governor of H.M. Prison Wormwood Scrubs asking for my attendance. (I love that name, Wormwood Scrubs!)

    Fortunately my brushes with the Law have been few and for minor offences. It would have to be for a shedload of money before I'd consider a serious crime. Even then, I would most likely reject the idea because I prefer being free and broke. (Note to millionaires: I can have more fun in a seedy joint that you would never dare set foot in than you could buy with all of your cash)

  8. Graham Marsden
    WTF?

    Imprisonment for profit!

    1) Privatise the prisons so companies like G4S get paid by the number of people in their institutions

    2) Make it much more difficult for people to get legal aid by slashing the budget

    3) Privatise the Courts system so the people running it are the same ones running the prisons

    4) Profit!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Imprisonment for profit!

      Graham,

      Only some states in the US allow "privately" operated prisons. What you might find interesting is the number of UK prisons that are privatized and that the UK was among the first to do so.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_prison#In_the_United_Kingdom

      1. Graham Marsden

        @AC - Re: Imprisonment for profit!

        "The privatization of prisons can be traced to the contracting out of confinement and care of prisoners after the American Revolution."

        "In the modern era, the United Kingdom was the first country in all of Europe to use prisons run by the private sector"

  9. Trigonoceps occipitalis

    Prisons are for ...

    Deterrence of others and the prevention, punishment and reformation of the prisoner. For me the last is most important (YMMV). Allowing the tels comps to gouge on the call rates could, of course, be viewed as "punishment" but allowing those who can be reformed to stay in easy, cheap contact with family and loved ones is vital. The fact that an unreformed career criminal can help to continue his career by phone is a small price to pay.

  10. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    There is nothing unusual ...

    ... in companies hiking prices when they have a locked-in customer base.

  11. ecofeco Silver badge

    Criminal justice in America

    It's a racket.

    1. TheDillinquent
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Criminal justice in America

      Actually its legalised slavery, which accounts for the ethnic imbalance.

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