(Washington, DC) District of Columbia Department of Corrections Director Devon Brown announced that the department has eliminated all commissions and surcharges on inmate telephone calls, thereby reducing their costs by 30 percent. This measure is intended to provide meaningful relief to families of the incarcerated while supporting Mayor Williams’ emphasis on strengthening families throughout the District of Columbia.
For too long, excessive inmate telephone service rates have unfairly burdened families that are struggling to meet the financial and social challenges caused by having a relative behind bars. Because the telephone is the primary means by which family members interact and maintain contact with loved ones who are incarcerated, it is essential that the cost of doing so be reasonable.
In recognition of the far-reaching benefits of this action, Director Brown said, “It is well established that maintaining frequent and meaningful communication between individuals who are incarcerated and their family members is a key component to the inmate’s successful reintegration to society. Such contact reduces recidivism and facilitates rehabilitation, which in turn reduces crime and the future costs of incarceration. Exorbitant inmate telephone rates have a negative impact on the family’s ability to maintain contact with those who are incarcerated, thereby weakening the likelihood of their productive readjustment to the community upon release,” Brown concluded.
The rate structure of inmate telephone calls is currently being reviewed by the US Congress, with a strong recommendation that they be substantially reduced. The action taken by the District of Columbia has placed it at the national forefront as leaders on this issue, and other correctional systems are expected to model this approach.