Last week the FCC voted to lower the costs of phone calls from incarcerated people to their loved ones outside. This will make a profound difference for families who have incarcerated loved ones and have been driven into debt to stay in touch.
This ruling is the type of reform our report “Who Pays? The True Cost of Mass Incarceration” found is critical to reducing recidivism. Studies assert that when incarcerated people maintain regular contact with their families, they are more successful when they return home. Hundreds of families told us of the impossible decisions they had to make between accepting that phone call or putting food on the table.
This FCC ruling is a win for strengthening families especially in the communities of color and low-income communities most deeply affected. Their impact of this vote will help keep families out of poverty so that their incarcerated loved ones re-entering society can have more stable foundations. Keeping families connected with their incarcerated loved ones is key to reversing the impact of mass incarceration on our communities. - Alicia Walters, Movement Building Director of Forward Together and co-author of “Who Pays?”
"I applaud the FCC for taking this momentous step towards reducing the costs that families have to pay in order to connect with their families. Sometimes visiting is not an option and the next best thing is hearing the voice of a loved one. I know from personal experience how vital it is to hear that voice of support, encouragement and hope from a family member. Because of today’s FCC decision many families across the country will be able to change, overcome and heal together." -Devin D. Coleman, a formerly incarcerated organizer with Florida New Majority.
Here is an infographic that details how families are affected by these phone costs. Forward Together, the Ella Baker Center, Research Action Design and 20 other organizations from around the country worked together to create “Who Pays? The True Cost of Mass Incarceration,” which outlines the exorbitant financial, emotional and physical costs placed on families with incarcerated loved ones.