One of the hottest debates in the U.S. prison industry, over the last few years, has been the proper cost of a phone call. Many prisoner rights groups, such as the Prison Policy Initiative and others, believe that inmate calling should be free or so low-cost that it is easily accessible to all, almost anytime they want to make a phone call.
But the constraints of the industry prevent this from ever coming to pass. In some jurisdictions, where heavy-handed government authorities have attempted to impose cost restrictions on outgoing phone calls, it has, more often than not, led to the complete removal of phones from those jails and prisons where the cost constraints were imposed. This reduces to the simple economics of running to prison. Much of the cost passed on to the inmates is the result of the commissions that prisons take out of every dollar that is spent by inmates on outgoing phone calls. While critics point to this as being a form of legalize kickbacks, prison wardens are quick to point out that, many times, the prison simply could not function adequately without those sources of revenue.
Securus Technologies is the nation’s leading inmate communications provider. Over the last 10 years, it has done a great deal to drastically lower the costs that inmates pay at the point of sale. In many states, such as the state of Louisiana, Securus has lowered inmate calling rates to just a hair above the levels that similar calls would cost in the free market. For example, most prisoners in the state of Louisiana pay just 15 cents per minute to make outgoing phone calls.
Securus believes that this represents an adequate compromise between cheap calling and providing the institutions with the crucial source of revenue that they need to keep their prisons operating safely and effectively.