Friday, September 28, 2012
New Mexico Public Regulations Commission passes Inmate Phone Resolution to the FCC
Following is from the Media Literacy Project
Another victory in an eventful week of prison justice work in New Mexico and nationwide
On the heels of a historic meeting and passage of a prison phone rates resolution to the Federal Communications Commission, New Mexico can be proud that the Public Regulations Commission made a statement on behalf of New Mexican families today.
The New Mexico Public Regulations Commission (PRC) passed an inmate phone resolution requesting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) take action on the Wright Petition (Docket 96-128) to protect consumers of inmate telephone services. Commissioner Jason A. Marks initiated discussion and action on the resolution by putting it on the agenda at today’s Open Meeting.
This comes less than 24 hours after an historic meeting between the name sake and plaintiff of the petition, 87 year-old Martha Wright, and the FCC in Washington, DC. In the nine years since this case was first filed against the Corrections Corporation of America, yesterday was the first time Wright had an opportunity to share her personal story with the FCC in person. This long overdue meeting was facilitated by the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice and Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Met), of which Media Literacy Project is the New Mexico anchor organization.
Momentum has been building since Friday, when the Consumer Advisory Committee to the FCC (which includes Mag-Net members Media Literacy Project, Native Public Media, and Center for Media Justice) passed a prison phone rates resolution to protect the families of inmates from predatory practices.
Some phone companies get away with as much as $15 for a 15 minute call in American jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers. This burden rests on the families of America's roughly 2.3 million inmates. This practice does not only harm the inmates and their families that are struggling economically; it hurts communities. In 2010 Congress was briefed on the impact that familial communication and connectivity has on recidivism.
Though New Mexico is one of nine (including the District of Columbia) states that does not receive “kickbacks” from phone companies that profit off of exorbitant prison phone rates, we do have families with loved ones incarcerated in faraway states.
PRC Commissioner Marks said all of the commissioners were extremely supportive. “We were all in agreement,” said Marks. “They were all like, ‘Well, there shouldn’t be fees like that. Maybe, at most, some sort of percentage would be fair.’”
Media Literacy Project Executive Director Andrea Quijada emphasizes the impact of the PRC’s resolution. “In a state where thousands of our loved ones are incarcerated,” says Quijada. ”Media Literacy Project applauds our Public Regulation Commission’s effort to keep our families strong and connected.”