Ever since the first phone was installed in a U.S. prison, the debate on how much inmates should be charged to make outgoing phone calls to their family members has raged on. Many people, including inmates, their family members and inmate rights advocacy groups all contend that phone calls should be either the same price as they are in the free market or completely free to inmates. Although most of these arguments rely on faulty logic, there’s no question that, at least in some instances, the amounts charged to make outgoing phone calls are probably set too high, leading to inmates not being able to stay in touch with their loved ones on the outside.
One of the stronger arguments that these prisoner rights groups and inmates themselves make is that denying the inmate the ability to make inexpensive outgoing phone calls makes it impossible for them to maintain strong relationships with their loved ones on the outside. This has been shown by a large number of studies to directly lead to increased rates of recidivism as well as behavioral problems within the institution itself. As any prison guard will tell you, there’s nothing more dangerous within the U.S. prison system than inmates who have lost all hope. One of the best ways to keep inmates well socialized within the prison and doing well once they are released is to allow them to maintain socialization with law-abiding citizens.
But highly expensive phone calls are not the norm. Throughout the country, Securus Technologies, one of the largest inmate communications providers in the country, has been able to maintain an average outgoing phone rate of just $0.15 per minute. At these rates, it is possible for almost all inmates to be able to afford to stay nearly constant contact with their loved ones, leaving to strong relationships and well-behaved inmates.