Texas prisons dramatically cuts the cost of inmate phone calls

State News
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Texas prisons dramatically cuts the cost of inmate phone calls” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Inmate phone calls in Texas prisons are about to get a lot cheaper.

In an Austin hotel ballroom Friday, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice voted to decrease the cost of calls for inmates from 26 cents per minute to 6 cents a minute. The change will go into effect Sept. 1.

“The new OTS contract is going to benefit not only families of offenders who are hoping to stay connected, but enhance the agency’s focus on re-entry,” said Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Bryan Collier. “The system is used to maintain relationships with friends and family that are a vital part of a successful re-entry and reintegration of offenders into the community.”

Under the new contract with CenturyLink, a typical 15-minute phone call will drop from about $4 to 90 cents. Phone call limits will also increase from 20 minutes to 30 minutes, and CenturyLink will install technology to allow for video visitation from major metro areas to rural areas, according to a press release.

At the meeting, the executive director of the Texas Inmate Families Association said she was stunned by the announcement.

“This is great news for families who are stressed by incarceration both financially and emotionally,” Jennifer Erschabek told The Texas Tribune. “Being able to connect with a phone call is so valuable to wives parents children and others.”

This story is developing and will be updated.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2018/08/24/texas-prison-system-dramatically-cuts-cost-inmate-phone-calls/.

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