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Today, September 12th 2012, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) sent a joint letter to Chairman Genachowski asking for immediate action on prison phone rate reform. The letter highlighted the lack of movement on the issue, despite the long pending status of the Wright petition at the FCC and legislation introduced by Rep. Rush last Congress. Both would provide relief for families and friends of prisoners who are charged high costs for phone calls. The letter joins recent actions by a civil rights and public interest coalition, grassroots activists and families of prisoners asking the FCC for relief from exorbitant interstate phone rates.
Actions that include a report released earlier this week by the Prison Policy Initiative about the current state of the prison phone industry, and a hundreds of letters from prisoners and their families asking the Chairman for action. Prison phone reform activists also directed a tweet at Chairman Genachowski during a September 11th #AskJulius question and answer event via Twitter, where they received the following response:
Representatives Waxman and Rush highlighted research supporting lowering the cost of calls as a way to foster strong relationships between families and inmates. Ensuring inmates maintain regular contact with outside support system can help combat the staggering recidivism in the United States.
While it remains to be seen what next steps the FCC will take or when exactly they will occur, the letter serves as a testimant to the strengthening support for prison phone reform.