Yesterday, November 15th 2012, the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice hosted a rally at the FCC to show support for Wright petition. Among the attendees was FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who announced long awaited action by Chairman Genachowski, who circulated further notice of proposed rulemaking for a vote to his fellow commissioners. The announcement was a culmination of over a decade, of work and activism by multiple stakeholders from around the country who have called for relief from exorbitant prison phone costs that hurt families of incarcerated individuals.
During the rally, Clyburn asserted support of the Wright petition, highlighting how high phone costs place a disproportionate burden on low-income families and communities of color. Clyburn was also the recipient of thousands of signatures from individuals who support the Wright petition, collected by action campaigns organized by Participant Media, Sum of Us and Thousand Kites. The Wright petition would regulate interstate prison phone rates essentially providing relief to thousands of families who pay high costs to call incarcerated loved ones in state prisons.
Apart from progress at the federal level and continued congressional outreach by groups in Washington including Public Knowledge, state level advocates experienced a similar victory earlier in the week during the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. The Board of Directors for NARUC adopted a resolution urging the FCC to take immediate action on the Wright petition. The effort, led by Nebraska utility commissioner Anne Boyle, was yet another success in the long fight for rate reform across the country.
While these successes give hope to advocates and stakeholders involved in this fight, they are also the first steps in a process that requires continued pressure and action to ensure that families receive the relief they deserve.