Let Convicts Make Calls, They Break Fewer Laws

26 May

Not someone you want calling you. Photo: Wired

Last year I did a piece for Wired about cell phones in prisons – how they’re being smuggled in by the thousands and are being used for literally everything from calling Mom to ordering murders. Prison reformers opined that the best way to beat the problem is to make it easier for inmates to call their loved ones more easily. In most lockups, their only option is artificially overpriced collect calls. Cheaper legit calls would reduce demand for smuggled mobiles, goes the thinking, and the result would be fewer handsets floating around for bad guys to use for evil ends. Well, according to Nebraska correctional authorities, it’s true. As the Omaha World-Herald reports,

State Corrections Director Bob Houston said Nebraska has made it so cheap for prisoners to use the regular prison phone system that there’s no monetary incentive to smuggle in phones.

Only six cell phones were confiscated from Nebraska inmates during the past year, Houston said. He attributes the low number to a decision made years ago not to seek profit from inmate phone calls.

In Nebraska, inmates pay only 50 cents for a local telephone call on the regular prison lines….By contrast, Iowa charges $2 per local call.

Safer prisons, happier moms – but sad news for phone companies, which rake in millions from overpriced inmate calls.

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2 Responses to “Let Convicts Make Calls, They Break Fewer Laws”

  1. klshilling May 27, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    Who would have thought Nebraska would be on the leading progressive edge? Any sense of the thinking on phone use in Los Angeles?

    • vincelb May 27, 2010 at 9:54 am #

      Good question. I know it’s a big issue in California prisons, but don’t have numbers on LA in particular. One would think it’s a problem here too, though – LA County runs the world’s biggest jail system, with over 20,000 people behind bars!

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