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High prison call costs, burden to families

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Posted: Nov 15, 2012 6:09 PM by Brittany Weiss
Updated: Nov 15, 2012 6:09 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: PSC, Foster Campbell, Prison, phone, collect call, inmates, family, Jimmy LeBlanc

BATON ROUGE - Offenders in prison, no matter what the crime, are allowed to make phone calls. Most of those calls are made to family.

The outgoing cost is expensive, and some families are struggling to pay the bills.

"The burden, really isn't on the prisoner," said Geraldine John-Louis. "The burden is on the family that has to pay for the telephone calls."

Every time a Louisiana inmate places a call, the sheriff's office and correctional facilities across the state reap the rewards. Vendors are required to pay sheriff's offices and the sate as much as 55% of gross revenues.

Commissioner Foster Campbell asked to the Louisiana Public Service Commission to lower the rate charged by telephone providers by 25 percent. He is also requesting elimination of other charges.

"If you're in jail, you have to use the phone," said Campbell. "They don't get the cheapest price, they get the highest price because they get the most commission."

Secretary of Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc says it costs money to make sure those outgoing calls are safe.

"There's a lot of issues that go along with monitoring and recording, and all of the issues that can happen on a phone system," said Leblanc.

The commission denied the request, and tabled the measure until December.

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