Since being at Generation Justice (GJ), I have learned that “communication is a human right.” And this is something that has been stressed by our work on Prison Phone Justice.
This work gave me the opportunity to get to know Jazlin Mendoza, a strong young woman of color and long time GJ member. Jazlin recently shared her powerful testimony in Washington D.C and on video. In Washington D.C, Jazlin and Roberta Rael, GJ Director, represented GJ and the Media Action Grassroots Network in support of the #RighttoConnect campaign. Their presence was critical because it was important for Congress and the FCC to hear personal stories from the families who have been impacted by high phone rates for too long. I know their presence in D.C ensured that the right decision was made for families.
Listening to Jazlin’s testimony, I was so proud to hear her speak up with a sense of hope for her future. I could feel Jazlin’s resilience when she expressed how she lost the bond she had with her father, who had raised her before he was incarcerated. I can’t imagine how it feels to talk to your father only once a month, for an average five minutes at a time. Although this was heartbreaking to hear, I was empowered to see a passionate and powerful young women share a deep part of herself in order to advocate for her loving father. To be his voice, as Jazlin said.
Instead of looking down on prisoners and their families, we need to break the cycle of prison by offering more positive solutions. Changes like reducing the prison phone rates is one step in the right direction for prisoners and their families.
I am so grateful to the Federal Communications Commission for voting and opening the doors for prisoners and their families to communicate more affordably. This is great victory! The heart and energy that we have all put into this work has been honored and respected. That is why I feel so fortunate to work with Generation Justice, MAG-Net, and the other organizations who have fought to win this victory for families to have the #RightToConnect!