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FCC Commissioner: “[This is] the greatest form of regulatory injustice I have seen in my 18 years.”

Friend, studies have shown that allowing incarcerated people to have regular in-person visits with loved ones reduces their likelihood of re-incarceration.

But many correctional facilities have moved towards only allowing people to communicate with incarcerated loved ones through video and calling technology. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, 74% of jails banned in-person visits when they implemented video visitation, preventing incarcerated people from maintaining important ties with their loved ones.

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) recently introduced the Video Visitation and Inmate Calling in Prisons Act of 2017 (S.1614). The bill would preserve in-person visitation and regulate video visitation and calling services used in correctional facilities.

Sign the petition to Oregon senators: Support the Video Visitation and Inmate Calling in Prisons Act of 2017.

SIGN THE PETITION
Sen. Duckworth’s bill focuses on addressing the exploitative nature of inmate calling and video visitation services. These services are often outrageously expensive, of poor quality and inappropriately used to replace in-person visits. Because prison telecommunication services are unregulated, there is little to no competition—resulting in families paying exorbitant rates and abusive fees.

The bill offers three concrete solutions:

  • Ensures video visitation is used only as a supplement to, and not a replacement of, in-person visitation;
  • Requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish rules governing the procurement and use of video visitation and inmate calling services to make sure rates are reasonable, fair and just in Federal and State prisons;
  • Requires the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to establish guidelines to govern the agency’s purchase and use of video visitation services, as a supplement to in-person visitation.

In 2015, the FCC attempted to implement rules to stop unfair rates but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled earlier this year that the FCC did not have authority to do so. As of now, prisons still lack governing guidelines for calling and video visitation. It’s time for Congress to step in.

Sign the petition to Oregon senators: Support the Video Visitation and Inmate Calling in Prisons Act of 2017.

SIGN THE PETITION
Too often, criminal justice policies fail to recognize and support the positive role families play in rehabilitation. What’s more, limiting in-person visitation also harms families trying to stay together. More than 2.7 million children in this country have at least one incarcerated parent. Losing contact with a parent can have devastating effects. We cannot leave them behind.

Calling and video visitation are only effective when they complement, not replace, regular in-person visits. Taking away to option of seeing family in-person is cruel, exploitative and bad public policy.

Sign if you agree: In-person visits are vital to rehabilitation and family cohesion. Support the Video Visitation and Inmate Calling in Prisons Act of 2017.

SIGN THE PETITION
Keep fighting,
Monique Teal, Daily Kos
 

Daily Kos, PO Box 70036, Oakland, CA, 94612.
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About oregoncureadmin

The mission of OREGON CURE is to reduce crime by advocating for effective criminal justice policies, procedures and programs.

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