Attendees at a FCC rally supporting prison phone rate reform hosted by the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice received good news from fellow attendee Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. Clyburn announced long awaited FCC action on the Wright petition by Chairman Genachowski which was circulated for further notice of proposed rule-making to fellow commissioners. This most recent victory was the result of many years of work and activism by multiple stakeholders from around the country who have been calling for relief from exorbitant prison phone costs that harm families of incarcerated individuals.
During the rally, Clyburn asserted her 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 phone phone 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.