Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Rush Submits Extension of Remarks about Exorbitant Prison Phone Rates

Oct 21, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON — The exorbitant and costly fees that American families incur to phone incarcerated loved ones financially drains them every year. According to Prison Legal News, more than two million Americans are housed within prison walls. For this reason, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) reintroduced H.R. 3638, the Family Telephone Connection Protection Act. Rush reintroduced this legislation to put an end to the kickbacks — also known as site commissions — received by prisons based on incoming and outgoing calls between inmates and their loved ones.

“For too many years we have allowed predatory companies to gauge millions of dollars from unsuspecting, hardworking families who would like to speak with their incarcerated loved ones,” expressed Rush. “Communication is a basic right that does not end after entering the penal system. Therefore, I, along with my colleagues, ask the FCC to do the right thing and put an end to insane and insidious phone rates. Sixty percent of what prisoners’ families pay to receive phone calls from their incarcerated loved ones has nothing to do to with the cost of the phone services provided.”

Research proves that there is a significant decline in recidivism for inmates who communicate with family while incarcerated compared to those who do not. Expensive phone call rates deter such communication and result in costly re-incarceration.

The FCC regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire (telephone), satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. It is an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress. The Commission is the United States’ primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation. Rush’s legislation implores the FCC to provide a market-based solution to curb these high telephone rates and protect American families from prisons profits due to increased rates.