Photo Credit: 180G895 (Flickr)

I am writing about my reaction on two articles I read in the New York Times, “Report Details Economic Hardships for Inmates Families” and “The High Cost of Calling the Imprisoned.” I am also writing because we need to get the word out to everybody about how families struggle just for a simple phone call to prison.  I never knew an inmate’s family has to spend so much money on one phone call. For example, I read that a 15-minute call can cost up to $13, when a regular phone call outside of prison is no more than 60 cents. Every time you deposit money in a prison phone account there is a charge of nearly $7 just to make the deposit. After doing this 15 times, for example, a family can end up spending more than $100 on depositing fees alone. One of the articles mentioned that in 2013 a total of 460 million was earned on these “concession fees.”

Most of the inmates have spouses and children. I was really struck by the story of a woman, mentioned in one article, who earned around $500 a month and is supporting herself and two kids. She manages to save up to make at least two trips a year to visit her husband in prison. When her kids want to go out to play, she asks them a simple question: do they want to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s or do they want to go see their dad? She said that she is  amazed when her kids say they want to go see their dad. This makes me feel that kids with incarcerated parents suffer a lot, sometimes they can’t even go and have fun like children they are. They prefer to go see their parents. I believe that children should not be have to be struggling with this sort of stuff. They are kids they should be having a really good childhood.  

In my opinion, this is all really sad. It make me feel sad because I believe that these families should not be struggling more than they already are. The inmates are charged with a crime and now they have to deal with even more charges. These types of charges consist of the high phone rates. Their families are struggling to keep up communication with them and sometimes can’t afford food or a place to live. Going into debt just to speak to your loved ones is a nightmare. I believe that there’s something the prison facilities could do to lower the price for phone calls and fees, because for those who have a family member incarcerated, the struggle is too much.

Now, the FCC has proposed to lower prison phone rates. In my opinion, this is really great! Now inmates could spend more time talking to their kids. These new rates will be helpful for those who do not have much. Many of these families can not go and visit all the way to the prison, so at least they could rely on telephone at a way lower cost. I would hope to see that no more families would go in debt for maintaining contact with their loved one in prison.


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