FCC made a case for limiting cost of prison phone calls. Not anymore.

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The Federal Communications Commission is no longer pressing to cut the costs of most prison phone calls, backing away from a years-long effort to limit charges imposed by a handful of private companies on inmates and their families. The shift comes as the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Feb 6 considers whether commissioners went too far when they capped prices for inmate calls that had reached more than a $1 per minute.

After President Trump tapped a new leader for the FCC, the commission’s attorneys changed course and told the court that the FCC no longer would defend one of its own key provisions that limited fees for prisoners’ intrastate calls. The issue set for court was first raised more than 15 years ago by a retired nurse in the District of Columbia who could not afford to call her incarcerated grandson. Because the FCC is no longer defending a key provision of its own rule, the court has provided additional time for arguments from attorney Andrew Jay Schwartzman, who represents inmate advocates, including the DC Prisoners’ Legal Services Project and the Human Rights Defense Center.

[Andrew Jay Schwartzman is the Benton Senior Counselor at the Public Interest Communications Law Project at Georgetown University Law Center's Institute for Public Representation]


FCC made a case for limiting cost of prison phone calls. Not anymore.