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Inmate phone service draws FCC scrutiny

FCC says that "regular telephone contact between inmates and their families is an important public policy matter"

By Joe Palazzolo
Online WSJ

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission has signaled an interest in regulating phone service for inmates, stepping into a long-running legal battle over prisoners' rights.

Inmate lawsuits dating back more than a decade argue that exclusive arrangements between prisons and service providers have restricted their phone choices and driven up rates—chilling their speech in violation of the First Amendment.

In a notice to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, the FCC says that "regular telephone contact between inmates and their families is an important public policy matter," and points to studies that show that regular contact with family reduces inmate recidivism. The notice asks for public comment on a range of possible regulations, including rate caps and the elimination of per-call charges.

Full story: Inmate Phone Service Draws FCC Scrutiny



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