IPR files opposition to stay request in prison phone rate appeal

IPR on Monday filed an opposition to several stay requests by prison telephone providers in the D.C. Circuit, asking the court to allow the FCC to impose rate caps at that site – www.priceofcialis.com and other regulations that will make it much cheaper for families to speak with their imprisoned loved ones.

The opposition, filed on behalf of several family members of prisoners, prisoners, and public interest organizations, demonstrates that millions of families — including 2.7 million children — would be harmed if the court granted the stay requests by prison phone providers.

Right now, it can cost up to $18 plus additional fees for a 15-minute phone call with a prisoner. Under the FCC’s rules scheduled to go into effect in early 2014, the same call would cost, on average, about $2.

Three prison phone providers, known as Inmate Calling Services, asked the D.C. Circuit in late November and early December to prohibit the FCC from implementing its rules, which create a series of rate caps and requires that all charges to customers be based on the cost of providing the service.

The FCC’s rate caps prohibit prison telephone providers from charging more than $0.21 per minute for prepaid calls and $0.25 per minute for collect calls unless a provider can justify a higher charge. The FCC also created safe harbor rates — $0.12 per minute prepaid and $0.14 per minute collect — that afford greater protections to service providers that charge at or below those rates.

In asking the court to halt the FCC’s rules, the prison phone providers argue that no third parties would be harmed and that the stay would benefit the public interest. In its filing on Monday, IPR argued that there would be tremendous harm to families who are often the least able to afford the high costs of communicating with prisoners.

“Paying for prison phone calls forces families to make hard choices,” the opposition argued. “Some families have reported forgoing medical operations or required drug prescriptions to cover the costs of calls from their incarcerated loved ones.”

On top of evidence showing how high prison telephone rates harmed families financially, other evidence and comments filed by prisoners showed how decreased family contact can harm prisoners’ children and isolate prisoners, making it more difficult for them to reintegrate with the community upon release.

The opposition also noted the tremendous public benefits that would flow from the FCC’s rate caps, including reduced recidivism, millions of dollars in criminal justice cost savings, increased prison security, and increased contact between families.

“Testimony during the FCC’s ICS workshop showed that reducing recidivism could save between $60-70 billion in detention costs per year nationwide,” the opposition argued. “Other evidence showed that even a one percent drop in the recidivism rate would mean savings of more than $250 million in criminal justice costs.”

The case is Securus v. FCC, No. 13-1280.

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