Community Organizations Demand Free Phone Calls in Jails and Prisons
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis it is now more important than ever that families be able to communicate.
Fort Lauderdale, FL (April 24, 2020) –
In Broward County, Florida it costs the family of an inmate $6.25 for a 15-minute phone call. The Florida Department of Corrections price for that call is $2.10. Each email an inmate or that inmate’s family member sends costs $0.39. It’s no wonder why children cannot build lasting bonds with their incarcerated parents – they can’t afford to call them. The Florida Justice Center, along with Worth Rises and over 300 other organizations, calls for the government to prioritize family values over profiteering by mandating free phone calls, video calls, and emails for the imprisoned and their family members.
The Florida Justice Center (FLJC) joined numerous community stakeholders, politicians, and activists in signing a letter that was sent to the National Governors Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the United States Conference of Mayors demanding free phone calls, video calls, and emails for all inmates in prisons and jails throughout the country.
The families of incarcerated men and women, “like millions of others, are struggling to stay afloat during this crisis. They are dealing with delayed pay, job loss, unexpected elder and childcare, and, in the worst cases, their own illness. They should not also be worried about whether they can afford to be in contact with incarcerated loved ones at this critical time,” the letter stated.
Under normal circumstances, nearly one-third of families with incarcerated loved ones go into debt trying to stay connected. Under these difficult circumstances that number will only increase.
“We have an obligation to do what we can to keep families united, to ease the minds of those who have loved ones in prison, and to keep those in prison aware of the health and safety of those on the outside,” said FLJC Executive Director Jonathan Bleiweiss. “That is why we are joining the #ConnectFamiliesNOW campaign.”
We urge lawmakers to suspend all fees associated with telephone calls, video calls, and emails during this crisis and to enact meaningful legislation that ensures all individuals, regardless of their financial situation, are able to stay in contact with their loved ones in jail and prison.
Color of Change
Essie Justice Group
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
WE GOT US NOW
ABOUT FLORIDA JUSTICE CENTER
Florida Justice Center is the state’s only legal aid organization dedicated to helping people with justice-involvement. Authorized by the Florida Supreme Court, FLJC works to lower the effects of an arrest through free and low-cost legal services, as well as connections to community service providers.
With a mission to empower individuals by providing legal support, community education, and removing barriers to success caused by the criminal justice system, FLJC succeeds in helping thousands of individuals each year.