Providing Relief for the Families of Inmates From the High Cost of Staying In Touch

By Julie Veach, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau

Today, the Commission released an Order that will provide meaningful relief to millions of Americans who have borne the financial burden of unjust and unreasonable interstate inmate calling service (ICS) rates.  These reforms are the right thing to do.  Our actions will increase inmates’ ability to stay in contact with their families and loved ones—including the 2.7 million children with an incarcerated parent.  That increased contact reduces recidivism, which benefits all of us through safer communities and by reducing the expense of incarcerating the re-offenders.  In fact, one study notes that a 1% reduction in recidivism would lead to $250 million in annual cost savings.

The ICS rates that spurred us to act are high.  In one case, the cost of a 15-minute call is $17.50—about $1.15 per minute.  The Order we released today is a major step toward fulfilling our statutory obligation to ensure that rates for all consumers are just, reasonable and fair.

Let’s take a look at the reforms:

  • The Order requires that all ICS providers’ interstate rates and charges be cost-based.  This applies not only to the rates for making a call, but to other charges like fees for establishing, maintaining, or funding an ICS account.
  • The Order also adopts interim caps for interstate inmate calling rates.  The caps are $.21 per minute for interstate debit and prepaid calls, and $.25 per minute for interstate collect calls.  No provider can charge rates above these caps without getting a waiver from us first.
  • The Order adopts interim “safe harbor” rate levels—$.12 per minute for interstate debit and prepaid calls, and $.14 per minute for interstate collect calls.  ICS providers can utilize the safe harbor and receive the benefit of a presumption that their rates are cost-based.
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Distance Learning: Brigham Young University

BYU Independent Study  Image courtesy

Our Paper courses (by mail) are our traditional, self-paced correspondence courses; students may receive and submit all material through the mail. Take this course anywhere; students who are traveling, in a remote location, or are institutionally bound are not limited by a need for Internet and computer access.

A course packet is mailed to you and contains everything needed to complete the course by mail including; the syllabus, course readings, non-graded self-check assignments, and computer-graded assignments with bubble sheets. Students can submit computer-graded (Speedback) assignments online or by mailing the completed bubble sheet. Students have the option of submitting instructor-graded assignments by e-mail, fax, or mail. Exams are administered by a certified proctor or testing center. Student support is available by phone, e-mail, and live chat. Students can also request free tutoring support.

This is best for students who:

  • Have no internet access
  • Prefer hard-copy assignments
  • Are not in a rush to complete the course
  • Do NOT have a counselor or parent that wants to closely follow their progress
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