Prisoner Phone Surcharge
On April 30, 2014, the Institute, DLA Piper, Latino Justice PRLDEF, and the Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) to reduce the exorbitant costs of in-state phone calls from prisons, jails, juvenile detention centers and immigration detention centers to improve contact between incarcerated individuals and their families. Overwhelmingly, poor minority women bear the brunt of high rates, and children suffer loss of parental contact when a family can’t afford to accept collect calls from prison.
On April 27, 2015, New Jersey entered into a new contract with GTL to provide Inmate Calling Service (ICS) providers to New Jersey state prisons. Under the new contract, GTL will provide ICS at a rate of 4.384 cents per minute, a significant reduction from the previous rates of, incredibly, 21 cents (for debit) to 25 cents (for credit) per minute. This rate is the only fee that GTL may charge the consumer, as the Request for Proposal (RFP) explicitly provides that “No service charge or additional fees above the rate indicated in this Schedule C shall be billed to any party.”