Recently passed bill by FFC For predatory prison phone call companies
A brand new legislation (awaiting approval from the President) will allow the Federal Communications Commission directly regulate rates in the notoriously shady prison phone market. With the risk of having to offer a high-quality service at a fair price businesses could decide to give it a go and open this market for a caring and innovative generation of service providers. Prison call systems are dependent on the state and prison system. They vary from decent enough to shockingly poor. With a virtually affluent customers, businesses were not able to develop new products and develop financial models that included payments to prisons as well as states encouraged the production of income at any cost. Prisoners are often charged exorbitant charges for basic services such as video calls and phone calls (an upsell) and have been denied visitation rights which leaves paid calls as the only alternative. It’s no surprise that this financial burden is borne heavily on those of color as well as those with lower incomes and is an industry worth billions of dollars. This has been the case for quite some time and the former FCC commissioner Mignon Cllyburn spent many years trying to change the system. When I spoke to Mignon Clyburn back in 2017, when she was leaving the agency, she referred to an the inmate “the clearest, most glaring type of market failure I’ve ever seen as a regulator.” This was a topic she worked on for years and she attributed much the credit for it to Martha Wright-Reed. the grandmother who organized and led the fight to reform the system until she passed away. And it’s named after Martha Wright-Reed, the woman for whom the current bill is named. It’s a basic bill that grants it with power to provide the FCC with the ability “to ensure just and reasonable charges for telephone and advanced communications services in correctional and detention facilities.” The bill accomplishes this by making small but significant amendments of the Communications Act of 1934, which (among other things) created the FCC and is frequently revised to meet this goal. (The bill was approved by the House as well as the Senate and will likely become the signature of president Biden in the near future, after the celebrations surrounding this spending plan, Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s trip, as well as the Christmas address are completed.) “The FCC has for years moved aggressively to address this terrible problem, but we have been limited in the extent to which we can address rates for calls made within a state’s borders,” stated FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement. “Today, thanks to the leadership of Senators Duckworth, Portman and their bipartisan coalition, the FCC will be granted the authority to close this glaring, painful, and detrimental loophole in our phones rate rules for incarcerated people.” (She also thanked Wright-Reed, as for Clyburn.) Free Press has collected many other remarks from people who are interested and all of them praise the legislation to curb “carceral profiteering” and generally helping inmates instead of remaining apathetic about them as an employment source or easy money. Although it’s good that costs will fall when the FCC is able to come up with and adopt a ruling on the subject but the result will likely be more than savings. Many companies that are in operation currently will suffer a huge drop in revenues, and increased scrutiny when the FCC will require reports and any other actions it thinks are required to enforce new regulations. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see a lot of these firms simply opt to leave while the going’s good. The introduction of rules in a market like this which has been dominated by the legacy providers, could be a catalyst for a change in the guard, that we’ve seen early warning of in some states that are embracing innovative models such as Ameelio’s. The company was founded with the idea of mailing postcards to prisoners for free however, within a short time they’d created a cutting-edge technology for video calls that is significantly less expensive and easier to use than previous ones.