Massachusetts should follow NYC’s lead and allow free calls from jail

New York City jails will now allow people in their custody to place free phone calls. (Read this article for more details.) This is a very positive development. Communication with family, friends, and lawyers is a vital part of maintaining support networks and preparing people to return to their communities. New York City’s practice should be used as a model for our jails in Massachusetts, which charge incarcerated people—and their family members—exorbitant fees for phone calls.

Check out this fact sheet that shows the rates charged by Massachusetts’ jails and the kickbacks these jails receive from the phone providers. A family member of someone who is incarcerated may be charged up to $7.50 for a 15 minute phone call, or up to $3.75 for a call lasting only 1 minute. These rates result in the sheriff’s departments receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks. The practice of providing free phone calls from jails should be adopted everywhere.

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