Barely a month after being re-elected, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is saying he plans to reignite one of the hottest regulatory issues of recent years in his next term. He wants to complete the PSC’s reform of the inmate telephone industry.
“The PSC cut rates for calls from jail by 25 percent in December 2012 and banned all added fees, but the fee ban was rolled back four months later,” he said. “During an 18-month PSC investigation our staff found that inmate families pay an average of 30 times more per minute to speak to their loved ones behind bars than we do on the outside, not including outrageous fees added to bills such as $10 to buy $50 worth of talk time and $10 to get a refund. We also found that inmate telephone providers pay steep commissions to jails to obtain contracts for handling these calls.”
While that will put Campbell at odds with law enforcement officials again, since they rely on the revenue, he has national news at his back. A proposal by the Federal Communications Commission to ban such commissions grabbed big headlines recently. It comes on the heels of a recent FCC decision lowering the cost of inmate calls that cross state lines.