This week, Public Knowledge joined the United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry in filing comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s proceeding to begin implementing the “Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2022” to end predatory pricing for calls to and from incarcerated people.
The agency specifically seeks comment on how to interpret the Act’s language to ensure just and reasonable rates and charges for incarcerated people’s audio and video communications. The move follows almost 20 years of public interest advocacy championing the needs of this vulnerable group. UCC Media Justice and Public Knowledge urge the Commission to recognize the dysfunctional and consolidated market for carceral communications, interpret the new “just and reasonable” standard to exclude site commissions, and to reject calls that “fairly compensated” requires an increase in rates.
The following can be attributed to Al Kramer, Senior Fellow at Public Knowledge:
“Everyone has a right to connect with loved ones at reasonable prices. Unconscionable phone rates impose undue hardship on many families, forcing them to choose between connecting with incarcerated loved ones or putting food on the table. No one should ever have to make that choice. By enacting this law, Congress has made it clear that the FCC has jurisdiction over both interstate and intrastate rates and it expects the FCC to adopt lower rates for these calls. We look forward to the Commission’s efforts to keep incarcerated people connected and commend the agency for moving quickly to get this proceeding underway.”
You may view the comments for more information. Public Knowledge also joined the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society and the Prison Policy Initiative in additional comments on this proceeding, arguing for using average cost data for the industry as the basis for setting the maximum call rate for both phone and video communications.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at email@example.com or 405-249-9435.