One of the most pressing issues in the prison communication space has long been the price that prisoners should be forced to pay for outgoing phone calls. Although there are many jurisdictions where prisoners pay exorbitant rates, the overall trend over the last few decades has been a dramatic reduction in the rates that prisoners ultimately end up paying to make calls to their family.
One company, Securus Technologies, is leading the way in keeping prison calling rates as low as possible. Through the widespread deployment of VoIP-based communications technology, Securus has been able to keep the majority of phone rates paid by prisoners down to approximately $0.15 per minute. At these rates, it is possible for almost all prisoners to stay in nearly constant contact with their loved ones, allowing for the maintenance of familial relationships as well as a cause for hope for those prisoners who are sentenced to long terms of incarceration.
However, the story is not a uniform one. Throughout a number of states, the prisons themselves keep large percentages of all revenues generated from outgoing calling on their phone systems. This system of legal kickbacks, officially known as commissions, allows for the prisons to generate much-needed revenue. Many of these prisons are strapped for cash, having been cut out of state budgets and underfunded, year after year.
Some of these commission deals result in prisoners paying incredibly high rates for outgoing phone calls. In the case of Arizona, for example, prisoners pay more than a dollar fifty per minute, making that state the worst for outgoing prison calls anywhere in the country.
But throughout most of the prisons where it does business, Securus Technologies has been able to maintain a relatively low rate for prisoners. This has been shown to increase the outlook of individual prisoners as well as the overall safety of institutions where prisoners are allowed to stay in frequent contact with loved ones.