Below is an article telling about other state prisons having the
rights to call their loved ones from prison.
Thank you all for your help in this matter,
Brenda Pitts Bennett
Royse City, Texas 75189 email@example.com
Although IN. CURE was not mentioned, you and all inmate families SHOULD know that we are the ones that got this accomplished. Please spread the word to all inmates and their families.
State Long-distance rate Revenues
Indiana $1.50 connect fee/25 cents per minute $6 million (est.)
Illinois $2.50-$3 connect fee/23 cents per minute* $12.2 million
Kentucky $1.50 connect fee/50 cents per minute $3.8 million
Michigan $2.95 connect fee/14 cents or 32 cents per minute,
depending on the distance $12.5 million
Ohio $1.46 connect fee/36 cents per minute
*Based on a news report published in 2000; Illinois officials declined
to provide rates. Sources: Departments of correction, Citizens
for the Rehabilitation of Errants
Barbara Robison figures she'll be able to talk to her son at the Pendleton
Correctional Facility more often and won't have to
worry so much about the cost. Robison, of Palatka, Fla., already has seen a big savings because of the sharp reduction last
month in collect charges for long-distance phone calls from Indiana prisons. A 30-minute phone call placed in late October by
her son, Stephen Coomer, cost more than $31. A call on Nov. 4 for roughly the same amount of time cost about $8.
"I just don't have the money to call all the time," Robison said. "But if he needs something, he can call a little bit more often."
Indiana, like most states, had been under growing pressure to lower collect long-distance charges on calls from prison inmates.
Lawsuits are pending in several states, and regulators and legislators across the country are taking a harder look at what
families of inmates pay for phone calls. Kay Perry, head of a national campaign by Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of
Errants to reduce telephone charges, said no other state has seen as drastic a reduction as Indiana. "We're thrilled to see that
happen," said Perry, of Kalamazoo, Mich. "It's a wonderful model for other states to follow." Prisons and county jails require
inmates to place collect telephone calls to friends and families on the outside to avoid high telephone costs and abuse. What
galls families and advocates of prison inmates is the commission - a percentage of the income paid by phone companies to
state or local governments. Indiana, with about 21,000 people in its prisons, earned $11 million on commissions in 2000.
"For the state or the local government to have a windfall from that is just not appropriate," said Rep. Ed Mahern, Indianapolis.
Rep. Scott Mellinger, D-Pendleton, a former Madison County sheriff,
said that in the mid-1980s, telephone companies began
offering lucrative commissions and, in some cases, signing bonuses for exclusive contracts for telephone services at prisons and
jails. The contracts promised new high-tech security features, such as the ability to monitor calls placed by inmates and prohibit
them from calling unauthorized people, Mellinger said. The commissions became an important source of income for states;
California, with a 43 percent commission, makes about $23 million a year on telephone charges from inmates' families.
"The prison systems aren't wanting to walk away from that much money," said Perry, of CURE. "We're seeing some pretty
substantial commissions being made in a number of states, and that's very attractive." Indiana earned a 53 percent commission
on its previous contract with AT&T. Only Nebraska never received commissions. Until last month, families of Indiana prison
inmates paid a $3.95 connection fee per call and 69 cents a minute for long-distance calls. The cost sparked complaints from
many families, who felt they carried an unfair burden -- especially at a time when long-distance rates for the general public
have dropped. Mellinger, chairman of an interim study committee that investigated phone charges at jails and prisons, said
most people -- including legislators -- had no idea how much the families were paying and what the money was being
used for. "It's a revenue source that's kind of hard to voice support for," he said.
Jay McQueen, deputy commissioner and general counsel of the Department
of Administration, said the state budget designates
money earned from long-distance phone calls for a variety of sources. Those include a telephone and computer network that
connects state government offices and a new computer system that will link all the state's courts. The state's new contract with
Dallas-based T-NETIX carries a 45 percent commission and will bring considerably less income; McQueen estimated the
total at $6 million. But families of prison inmates are seeing a big savings since the state finished switching over to T-NETIX on
Oct. 26. The connection fee is $1.50, and the per-minute charge is 25 cents. The connection fee may be waived if
families prepay the phone charges. Celicia Randall of Indianapolis said she and her family won't have to worry so much about
the cost when her brother, Jack Perry, calls from the Westville Correctional Facility. "If he needs to tell us something, it won't
be an arm and a leg if we accept," she said. Randall said she paid $5.50 for a 15-minute call on Thursday; the charge two
weeks earlier was $17.60. Despite the reduction in long-distance charges, the issue of phone calls from jails and prisons is far
from being resolved.
Indianapolis attorney Larry Reuben said the lower long-distance rates
will have no effect on a lawsuit he filed last year in
Marion Superior Court. The lawsuit names as defendants the Department of Administration, Marion County Sheriff Jack
Cottey and other county sheriffs. "There appears to be some reducing of the charges, which shouldn't exist at all, at least not in
these numbers," he said. "It doesn't touch the hundreds of thousands of dollars Cottey is making, along with every other sheriff
in the state." State legislators also are taking a look at the commissions paid on calls placed by inmates at prisons and county
jails. Counties receive commissions ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent on phone calls from jail. Marion County's
commission is 40 percent. "Should the families of the inmates be subsidizing government?" said Mahern, the state
representative. "It's important for inmates to have conversations with family and loved ones. It's better for them, and it's better
for the prisons."
Contact Mike Ellis at 1-317-444-6702 or via e-mail at