SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, says telephone calls placed by inmates in Illinois correctional facilities are being inflated and costing the families of incarcerated individuals more than they can bear financially. She’s working to lower the cost of the phone calls and prohibit the state from profiting from the calls.
“Currently, Illinois correctional facilities have telephone service contracts where the service provider pays a portion of each phone call to the state,” Ammons said. “For the Department of Corrections to make even one cent by taking advantage of vulnerable and financially struggling families who only want to speak with their loved ones is an injustice.”
Ammons is sponsoring legislation to cap the amount that phone calls placed by inmates in the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice and prohibits the state from collecting any commissions from the providers of inmate calling services. The state receives about $12 million each year from those commissions.
Under the measure, prison phone calls could only cost a maximum of 5 cents and 23 cents per minute for international calls, a rate that is almost 80 percent less than is currently being paid for the same calls.
“We need to stand with the families of those who are voiceless,” Ammons said. “They have no choice to stay in touch with incarcerated relatives but to pay these inflated fees on phone calls. It is time for Illinois to take a stand for these people who have no other options.”
House Bill 6200 is supported by the ACLU of Illinois, Prison and Neighborhoods Arts Project, and NAACP Champaign County Branch. The bill passed the House on a vote of 69-44 on Wednesday. The measure is expected to be heard in the senate in the near future.