Jail

NYC Guarantees Free Phone Calls for Inmates

New York, where three-quarters of inmates in city jails haven't been convicted, is the first city in the nation to do this.

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A bill signed into law yesterday by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will allow all inmates in city jails to make free phone calls.

"This piece of legislation will ensure that no incarcerated person will have to pay to reach their loved ones on the phone and maintain crucial connections to the support networks key to their rehabilitation," de Blasio said in a statement.

In the 2017 fiscal year, 76 percent of NYC Department of Correction (DOC) inmates were pretrial detainees, meaning they had not yet been convicted. But unless they could pay up, their criminal status (or lack thereof) didn't matter. The New York Time reports:

Currently, calls from Rikers Island cost 50 cents for the first minute and 5 cents for each additional minute to local numbers. There are 26,000 calls from the city's jails every day that generate more than $20,000 in daily revenue, according to an analysis by the Corrections Accountability Project, which advocated for the bill.

The DOC already allows some inmates to make calls free of charge. But the new law, which was approved by the city council in July and takes effect in nine months, makes New York the nation's first major city to guarantee free calls for all inmates.

The city estimated that in the 2019 fiscal year, it would collect about $5 million in revenue from inmate telephone fees. The city itself doesn't manage the phones in its jails. Instead, it contracts with Securus, a private company that rakes in about $2.5 million a year from the deal. According to the Times, NYC "will still likely pay a private company that amount."

Elias Husamudeen, president of the city's correction officers' union, is concerned the bill will allow gang leaders to maintain control even while incarcerated. "This is just one more nail in the coffin of creating safer jails, to be honest with you," he tells the Times.

But the law has garnered praise from prison reform advocates. "People who are incarcerated, and especially people who are incarcerated pretrial without conviction, should be able to contact lifelines without cost," Bianca Tylek, director of the Corrections Accountability Project, tells the Times.

City council Speaker Corey Johnson, who sponsored the law, expressed similar sentiments. "No one should have to choose between speaking to their loved ones and paying the bills and I am proud to say that New Yorkers with loved ones who are incarcerated will no longer have to make this decision," Johnson said in a statement.

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  1. There are no interest-free government loans from the fairy godbitch.

  2. Right. Resources aren’t scarce, hard choices aren’t required.
    Because feelz I guess.

    1. If NYC won’t process them quickly, they should at least let them spend a lot of time talking to lawyers.

      1. At taxpayer expense on both counts, of course…

        1. Maybe the taxpayers should stop locking so damn many people up if they don’t like paying for taking care of them. Government’s just the things we choose to do together, remember.

    2. Because its so hard to run a phone line from an island that’s, literally, 100 yards offshore from the mainland and that justifies those ridiculous per-minute prices. And wireless VOIP doesn’t exist.

      It costs less than 2 dollars to call Mexico for an hour with a phone card.

      1. Heck, it’d be cheap to buy a hundred cell phones with unlimited talk and use those.

      2. Lots of jails and prisons on the mainland have worse phone charges. They treat the phones as a profit center – not so much for the jail as for a private third party company that provides the phones, which can only call out as a collect call, at grossly inflated rates.

  3. “”According to the Times, NYC “will still likely pay a private company that amount.”””

    So the taxpayer picks up the bill of what’s basically a scam. Of course.

    1. If you’re implying some sort of kickback situation between Securus and officials… Well, I never.

      1. Then you’re in the wrong line of work.

  4. Phone time still needs to be rationed somehow presumably.

    1. Just show them ads on the phone.

      1. Give them five minutes per call and a long line of cellmates behind them that they don’t want to make angry.

      2. And limiting physical access to the phones (of which there are fewer than there are prisoners) isn’t good enough rationing?

  5. This piece of legislation will ensure that no incarcerated person will have to pay to reach their loved ones on the phone and maintain crucial connections to the support networks key to their rehabilitation,

    “People who are incarcerated, and especially people who are incarcerated pretrial without conviction, should be able to contact lifelines without cost,”

    It’s almost like prison doesn’t rehabilitate anyone of anything. Like it used to be a punitive action reserved for extremely dangerous and violent offenders but has been broadened into some kind of social engineering program that frequently jails peace-loving family members for relatively trivial offenses.

  6. Elias Husamudeen, president of the city’s correction officers’ union, is concerned the bill will allow gang leaders to maintain control even while incarcerated. “This is just one more nail in the coffin of creating safer jails, to be honest with you,” he tells the Times.

    Fake news. Because he knows most people don’t know the difference between jail and prison.

    1. It’s also funny how he thinks gang leaders don’t otherwise find ways to communicate with the outside world.

      1. Or that powerful gang leaders couldn’t afford one dollar for a ten minute conversation.

        1. Well, yeah, they didn’t even have to pay taxes on that income from selling loosies and heroin. LIBERTOIPA!

      2. I’m thinking most gang leaders wouldn’t use a jail issued phone under the assumption that they are being listened too. Probably catch an idiot or too doing but a major gang leader probably uses someone else to make the call using a burner brought in by a prison guard – there we have it this guy is worried that his market share will be cut into.


  7. In the 2017 fiscal year, 76 percent of NYC Department of Correction (DOC) inmates were pretrial detainees, meaning they had not yet been convicted. But unless they could pay up, their criminal status (or lack thereof) didn’t matter.

    So, they’re still fucked by the state but hey at least they’re getting a reach around?

    1. Yes, it’s absurd. They’re optimizing for phone calls, instead of doing something for the tremendous injustice they’re inflicting on these people.

      Also, that cost to make a call seems a bit much nowadays to make a phone call, but is also trivial in any real cost. If there is anyone who has to choose between making this call, or “paying the bills” I would be surprised. Assuming the cost given here is real.

      Though there’s also the problem of having to have money on you in prison to make the call. Which seems much harder right after getting arrested. Which goes back to the underlying bullshit of the prison system they’re avoiding here, with this show.

      1. Yeah, I mean fuck letting these unconvicted people out of jail or processing their trials in a speedy way as required by the constitution. Lets give them free phone calls at vastly inflated prices on the backs of New York taxpayers while we violate their basic rights and perform our jobs about as well as a room full of howler monkeys!

        I couldn’t be more glad my family escaped Brooklyn. Fuck New York City, and fuck New York State that’s run by them.

  8. My knee jerk response is to scream “damned lib’ruhls!”

    But on second thought, prisoners have the right to legal counsel, and you can’t get that without a phone call.

    So maybe a compromise. But the actual cost of the phone call on their bill. As in actual cost. Which is actually pretty damned cheap. Not the crazy 1980s prices listed in the article.

    1. “”But on second thought, prisoners have the right to legal counsel, and you can’t get that without a phone call.”‘

      It’s not so much about that phone call as it is the calls made to spouses, kids, ect, while incarcerated. I’m willing to bet that Securus is the company they use not so much to manage the phone calls, but provides the surveillance tools that listen in on the conversations.

    2. My knee jerk response is to scream “damned lib’ruhls!”

      But on second thought, prisoners have the right to legal counsel, and you can’t get that without a phone call

      Besides that, I am of the opinion that if we’re going to lock people up we at least have a duty to treat them humanely and give them a decent shot at rehabilitation. It is very difficult to do that if they are cut off from any outside emotional support. And that’s besides doing things like charging them a fee for an email “stamp”, when the cost is so close to zero it might as well be. That’s just keeping poor people poor because they can, and we should all be outraged that this cruel profiteering is being done in our name by our institutions. This has nothing to do with “justice” and should be eliminated.

  9. http://twitter.com/ThomasEWood…..5463201794

    Executive director of the Ron Paul Institute @DanielLMcAdams has been suspended by Twitter, as has @ScottHortonShow (you can see their tweets, but they can’t tweet). Maybe someday there could be a major platform that just lets people talk, and doesn’t try to be your mother?

    As anyone paying attention knew, the de platforming of Alex Jones was just the begining of a coordinated effort to do the same to the entire right. Libertarians, you are next.

    1. I never knew being a 9/11 truther made you part of the “right.”

      1. You got a lot of stupid takes, don’t you?

    2. Yes, libertarians are next, as clearly they’re going after the anti-war libertarians that are inconvenient for a media that spews CIA talking points.

      Other “libertarians” have no reason to fear, because they’re just controlled opposition. They’re so squishy they really will justify anything with a smile.

  10. Maybe next year, NY can stop arresting so many people for bullshit charges so they dont need to be ground up in the crappy NY criminal justice system.

  11. So there are two ways they can go about doing this. The first option is to call up the phone company and pay for a few dozen unlimited calling + free long distance phone lines. Say 500 lines at $50/month for a total of $25,000 or $300,000 per year. The second option is to contract with the company running the system now and get 200 lines for $3,000,000 per year.

    Obviously, they’ll go with the latter.

    1. Moar is better.

  12. No need to give free phone calls.

    The inmates will just let their homies call from smuggled cell phones and its prevents NY monitoring the calls.

  13. You mean reason is supporting giving more rights to people who are imprisioned? So as a citizens you get less and less rights compared to inmates….damn this sucks. There should be pathways in the prison to work towards covering your call fees and food fees.

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