Cheaper inmate calling coming

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Inmate calling will soon be cheaper at the Covington County jail. File photo

Inmate calling will soon be cheaper at the Covington County jail.
File photo

The Federal Communications Commission recently cracked down on excessive rates charged in the state for phone calls between inmates and family members.

Currently, the average cost for a 15-minute, in-state pre-paid call from a family member to a loved on in prison is $3.75.

Locally, the same 15-minute prepaid call costs $2.50.

Sheriff Dennis Meeks said the county uses Telmate for its phone service.

“Some sheriff’s offices get revenue from the phone service,” he said. “My sheriff’s office doesn’t. All the phone revenues go into general fund and the county commission gets that.”

County Administrator Karen Sowell said the county gets 82 percent of the gross revenue, which equated to $27,669 for nine months remitted in the last fiscal year.

The FCC’s new rate comes to $1.65 for the same 15-minute call. They also lower the interstate call to $1.65 for 15 minutes.

At the Covington County Jail, the cost for a prepaid, interstate call, is 49 cents per minute up to 15 minutes plus a $3.49 connection fee.

“The FCC has a mandate to ensure that rates for all phone calls are just, reasonable and fair for all Americans, and that includes the families and loved ones of inmates,” said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clybrn, who led the effort in the FCC to reform the inmate calling system. “Easing the financial burden on these families is not only the compassionate thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. Multiple studies have shown that having meaningful contact beyond the prison walls can make a real difference in maintaining community ties, promoting rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. The FCC’s action is one small piece that could make a difference on criminal justice reform.”