R2010002 - Public Comments

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Sarah Bennett   CA95014

I recently learned that phone calls from prison or jail in California can cost more than $1 per minute. That is highway robbery compared to the $25 per month I pay for both telephone and internet access. Not to mention it hits the most vulnerable among us - people living in poverty are among the most likely to be incarcerated or have incarcerated loved ones. Please impose rate and fee caps to reduce the cost of calling home from California prisons and jails.

Oct 11, 2021 4:13 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Anonymous   CA

The rates are $.20 per minute for me, and the GTL website nor their telephone system allow users the option to find the rates for all prison. While county jail names are listed, city jails are absent from the rate search function, making it impossible for us to figure out what the charges would be until after being billed. My current monthly cost is about $400, and this is a heavy heavy blow for the family especially given that this is one of the primary resource we have to keep the incarcerated person ALIVE. I have been told that the previous cell occupant had committed suicide, and it is no wonder that these tragedies are happening when the support is so limited. For many incarcerated person, that phone call is a life or death matter. Prompt adoption of rate caps is greatly appreciated.

Sep 27, 2021 4:15 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Nicole Bennett Los Angeles, CA90041

The fact that the prison industrial complex has grown exponentially in the last 20 years means that company’s and services are profiting from this as well, including companies like Global Tel Link and JPay, who continue to raise their fees in order to profit off inmates communication with their family and loved ones. It’s widely reported that the majority of people in the prison system come from low income backgrounds, suffer from mental health issues and suffer from intense isolation and trauma while serving time. Keeping in touch or communicating with family allows for hope, support, safety and, from what I’ve seen, a more successful reentry into society. You have a system that relies heavily on family support as inmate services, care, socialization and re-entry programs are so devastatingly underfunded, undervalued and undereducated, so sometimes family support through phone calls is the only form or means of communication throughout the entire arrest > jail > prison > release process. Private prisons need to be abolished. Phone access needs to be free or any profit needs to go back into the system, reentry programs, or prisoner rehabilitation.

May 03, 2021 6:23 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Anonymous   CA

I'm paying $400 month, so my spouse can talk to me and his sons and immediate family members. It's 2 times more then my cell phone bill. 30 minute limit is not very long either, more minutes and reduced the cost. Even when pay phones were popular, it was a lot cheaper to call on a pay phone, then it is talking to your loved one in jail or prison.

May 01, 2021 5:47 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Anonymous   CA

Many people here have commented on how unfair and unsure it is to charge such exorbitant fees for people to keep in contact with their family, and the poor quality of the service that is provided by jpay and Securus. Providing basic services such as communication with their family at a low cost and high quality would be good for their prospects at successfully reentering society when their sentence is complete. This is also a major benefit for the state of California and it's residents who want to see the state's prisoners be able to come out into society and contribute positively, and not go back to prison. Many prisoners are from poor backgrounds and exploiting poor people for profit works against many of the other more noble policies the state does to help those in poverty. We should stop allowing certain corporations unnecessarily profit at the expense of our state, especially in situations where their exploitative practices hamper the ability of prisoners to maintain their family relationships and contact with them.

May 01, 2021 12:06 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Anonymous   CA

I correspond with incarcerated women in California and other states and am well aware of the problem of over-priced phone calls. It is abhorrent that a company or companies make so much profit on phone calls made and received by prisoners. Children especially suffer from the lack of hearing their parent's voice. The state has an obligation to reform this practice.

May 01, 2021 10:02 am Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Anissa Zaitsu San Francisco, CA94131

Incarcerated people are people and deserve to be treated as such. Putting financial barriers between people who have very little agency to make money and their communities is deplorable. It is not right to profit off the most disenfranchised people of our society. We must continue to provide free phone access to people in jail.

Apr 30, 2021 6:50 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Benjamin Sherman San Francisco, CA94131

I have friends who are incarcerated in the county jail system. They are locked up and forced to pay exorbitant fees to have their basic needs met. It is a torturous experience and on top of that they are getting scammed out of the little money they might have before they are locked up and can’t earn any money. It would be disgraceful to discontinue free phone access to our incarcerated neighbors.

Apr 30, 2021 6:42 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Ben Cox Twentynine Palms, CA

Securus has a monopoly and it's disgusting. The cost is absolutely obscene, and I think inmates should be allowed to call for free. To make sure everyone gets a fair chance, you can put limits on phone time. I am completely appalled by the state of the Jails and the cyclical system that traps people, all to make money on junk food and personal contact with family. It's disgustingly exploitative.

Apr 30, 2021 5:27 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Nellie Brooklyn, NY

The costs charged to families are egregious. If the goal of incarceration is to lower the likelihood those that are currently incarcerated will return to prison or jail, it is a public service that these families maintain contact and should do so at no cost to themselves. Why are we working against our interests to punish families who have done no crime?

Apr 30, 2021 10:55 am Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Brian Daniels LAGUNA BEACH, CA92651

The Penal System emphasizes "reintegration" into the community. However, they do the exact opposite by alienating prisoners from their families by costly phone contact and limited visits. It appears that what the Penal System really wants is to create more prisoners and assure a high rate of recidivism by limiting family contact through the high costs of phone calls and other services.

Apr 29, 2021 10:14 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Anonymous   CA

Communication with family is one of the most vital needs of those incarcerated. Look to the lessons of the current pandemic. What does it mean to be completely cut off from your family and friends? Then look beyond to see the data on recidivism which shows those with family support are less likely to re offend. Communication is part of that support. Phone calls, emails, video calls are all part of communication. The fees and rates charged by businesses which provide such are excessive, beyond "fair market value". Their profits from the misfortunes of others weigh down poor people, adding to the burden these families must bear, as is true in many aspects of our society. If rehabilitation is truly part of the intent of the CDCR then there should be no fees or costs involved in providing these means of communication. They should be considered tools necessary for the program to prepare the incarcerated for re entry as contributing members of our society. It is abhorrent that a society calls itself civilized yet allows financial decisions/profits to be made to decide what additional price the underprivileged families, hence the incarcerated individual, must pay. Being introduced to this system without a compass I was overwhelmed by the number of predatory practices I encountered. It took awhile to sort through them. I hope your regulations will include perhaps a list on the CDCR website of where to go for phone, email, video, money deposits. A better option might be giving a flyer specific for the institution to each inmate on admission. That would be a solution for those without a computer or the skills to use it. It was very confusing and I got a lot of misinformation before I found my way.

Apr 29, 2021 10:04 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Julie Gotch Grand Rapids, MI49506

I have a loved one in Avenal State Prison. First, I just wanted to list the things that the high rates have affected: 1) finances: when someone is in jail, the financial burden falls on those on the outside to pay for phone calls and many other things the incarcerated person needs, as well as costs associated with visits, if they can afford them. Often the families are facing reduced income already, because the person in jail was one of the family bread-winners and now they face additional, steep costs; 2) isolation and mental health: phone calls are a lifeline, especially in this time when there are no physical visits, they mean so much and can affect moods and behavior in the prisons; 3) relationships & recidivism: more frequent phone calls maintain family relationships, and these family members are often the ones who provide the support on release for the prisoner to reintegration into society. Secondly, I wanted to tell you of some of the frustrations I have personally experienced. 1) Figuring it out: a) When my loved one is moved, I have to figure out what phone company is providing phone calls. Every prison is different. When you go to the prison websites, they will say what company it it is and give a contact URL or phone, but if the phone company has changed anything, they often are not updated on the websites. b) Each phone company does the set-up differently. I've had to do it 3 times & it is always very confusing, bewildering, and frustrating. What I learn on navigating one system doesn't work on the other system. c) If it is not the same company, you can't transfer the funds you have on the other phone service to the new one. You have to start over with a new account. 2) Long distance costs: Because I am out of state, the rates are more expensive. I tried to use a free Google Voice number with the same area code to reduce the costs, but the service wouldn't work with GTL. Their customer support was not able to say if their phone service would work with Google Voice or not. I had to find out by very frustrating trial and error, missing calls, that it did not work with Google Voice. I was able to find a service that provided a local number for a $5/month which worked and was very helpful on reducing the cost of calls. 3) Reliability: Many times I would try to pick up the call, sometimes by pressing the number and sometimes by speaking the number and neither worked. Since my loved one could not call whenever he wanted to, our opportunity to talk would be gone. It was so frustrating and produced anxiety about the next phone call, if it would happen again. On his side, all he knew was I wasn't answering, which was hard on him. One time it happened for an entire week. I called support and they told me that they reset something on the jail phone (I have no idea what or why it broke) and then it worked. Sometimes the line is bad and we can't understand each other but we push on, straining to make out what is said. 4) Annoying message: They tell you at the beginning of the call that you are being recorded and to watch what you say. The phone calls are only 15 minutes long, but they interrupt at least twice to say that same message again. I'm not going to forget in 15 minutes that I'm being recorded. I don't see the need to have my precious time interrupted every 5 minutes to give me no new information. I also know that he's in a public space talking to me and that everything we are saying is heard by a number of people standing around waiting their turn on the phone. I get that they are paying a debt for their crimes, but every little indignity wears them down. They have no privacy, no guarantees that they will have phone time, or that the call will go through, or that it will be a good line & they can hear. On top of all that, they worry about the financial burden on us. Thank you for your caring & compassion.

Apr 29, 2021 9:35 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
Gale Morgan Sacramento, CA95811

I sit on the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Commission (SHRA.org) My constituents include 3200 families in public housing and 11,000 families using the Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) in Sacramento County. All these folks are low-income as indicated by their participation in the programs. While you offer free Obama phones and/or low-cost life-line service to our clients, these services don't seem to be available to their incarcerated family members. I see a parallel between the two, as most incarcerated persons have virtually no income. I have a foster grandson who is incarcerated in Corcoran, CA (C-SATF) and I put $50.00 on my phone for him each month. The calls provide stability and better mental health for him. They also bring a bit of joy into my life when he calls. I find it interesting that was notified of the hearing by JPay; but, not by GTL Connect Network who provides the service at this location. There should be no type of kick-back to the prison system or jails for providing phone service to inmates. Thank you for hearing this issue!

Apr 29, 2021 9:07 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
C E Chico, CA

Thank you for addressing this issue. The emotional burden of having an incarcerated loved one is significant and it is unfair to add a financial burden as well. My brother is incarcerated and these phone calls help him strengthen the support system which will help him once he is released. Prisoners should not have to choose between connecting with their families or not being a potential financial burden. Not only are the phone calls expensive they are also interrupted every few minutes to remind us they are being recorded which makes them an even worse value. Thank you for consideration.

Apr 29, 2021 8:15 pm Flag as Offensive or Inappropriate
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