Verizon Joins NAACP in Call for the FCC to Address Extreme Phone Calling Rates Charged to Prisoners

(WASHINGTON, DC) -  The NAACP commends Verizon and Verizon Wireless for their official comments to the FCC urging a federal governmental review of high telephone rates for inmate calling services.  Verizon joins the NAACP and several other civil and human rights organizations in requesting that the FCC address and adjust these rates to ensure inmates and their families, as well as legal council can maintain communications.

“We strongly commend Verizon for using its powerful voice in the telecommunications and public policy arena to call attention to the extremely high telephone rates charged by inmate calling services,” stated Hilary O. Shelton, Director, NAACP Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy. “Telephone access is a crucial, and often the only communication instrument available to the incarcerated and those who care about them, including their parents, children, spouses and grandparents, as well as their legal counsel. Studies have concluded that incarcerated Americans are most likely to successfully rehabilitate and reintegrate into the communities in which they lived prior to incarceration, if they maintain regular communications. The NAACP will continue to work with good partners like Verizon until these extreme calling rates are eliminated.”

In their Comments to the FCC, Verizon states, “…there is a compelling public interest in ensuring that call rates are reasonable in the unique ICS market.”

Last December, the FCC announced a proposed rule to help the tens-of-thousands of prisoners and their families who, it was found, generally pay significantly higher toll rates than those offered for the typical interstate long distance call, sometimes exceeding $3.00 per minute. 

The FCC’s decision comes after the NAACP, working independently and in coalition with other groups across the political spectrum and from the religious, civil rights and human rights communities, advocated for a reduction and cap for over 10 years.  Costing up to 24 times the rate of a normal phone call, extreme prison phone rates unfairly burden and punish inmates’ families, given no other option, must pay for the calls.  Several states and local jurisdictions, including New York, Nebraska, and Cook County, Illinois have moved in recent times to curb the cost of prison phone calls as well. 

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.  You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our five “Game Changer” issue areas here.

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