Attorney general: FCC changes to inmate phone calls could save the state millions

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma officials say a recent order by the Federal Communications Commission could save the state millions of dollars.

The FCC order would cap rates below what many prisons and jails have been charging for inmate phone calls.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt led a coalition of nine states and numerous sheriffs to file a lawsuit against the FCC’s in-state phone call price controls.

After the briefing, the FCC released a new set of rate caps.

Pruitt says that he will continue with the lawsuit, alleging that the new caps are still unlawful but are an improvement.

“We will continue to fight the price controls set by the FCC for in-state calls because they represent yet another unlawful federal intrusion into state authority,” Attorney General Pruitt said. “I am pleased to work with States and sheriffs from around the country and across party lines to vindicate state and local control over how we run and fund our jails and prisons. While the FCC’s newest action will lessen the devastating fiscal impact on state and local agencies if their rate caps ultimately upheld, their action remains unlawful. Without this suit, jails and prisons in Oklahoma would lose millions of already-scarce dollars, jeopardizing important inmate welfare programs, including substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, and other rehabilitative services. It is a shame that it took a major lawsuit and several losses in Court for the FCC to even begin listening to the concerns of county jails and state prisons about the arbitrariness of their actions.”

These are the new rates for debit and prepaid calls:

  • State or federal prisons: 13 cents per minute;
  • Jails with 1,000 or more inmates: 19 cents per minute;
  • Jails with 350 to 999 inmates: 21 cents per minute;
  • Jails of up to 349 inmates: 31 cents per minute.
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