Add Money To Phone For Jail Calls – High Cost to Call Cuyahoga County Jail, Ohio Calls from this Ohio county jail are eight times higher than calls from any other jail in the state of Ohio.
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Add Money To Phone For Jail Calls
When Kevin Lott was booked into the Cuyahoga County Jail in 2021, phone calls were a way of life. But this salvation came at a price.
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Lott said the phone calls were a necessity to keep in touch, but after he was convicted of robbery and related charges and served five years in prison, his priority was to keep in touch with his children and their mother. On the phone, Lott, 35, can try to coordinate birthday and holiday gifts and track her progress in school. Sometimes when he talked to older children, they were distracted by tablets or smartphones.
Calls from the Cuyahoga County Jail cost 16 cents per minute, eight times more than calls from an Ohio jail. Those in prison say the cost of the calls has made it difficult to provide for their families, care for their children and protect their mental health. Some studies show that regular phone calls can help people cope later in jail or prison, and that incarcerated parents can strengthen their bonds with their children.
Last month, the Prison Policy Initiative, a criminal justice nonprofit, conducted an in-depth study of the cost of phone calls from prisons across the country and how they compare to the cost of calls from state prisons.
In Ohio, they reported that the average phone call from a state prison costs 20 cents per minute, 10 times more than a call from an Ohio prison. That difference is eclipsed only by Illinois, where a minute of phone time is 20 times greater from prisons than inside prisons.
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Many prisons contract with private companies to provide telephone service for inmates. According to The Prison Policy Initiative, a call from the Cuyahoga County Jail through Securus costs 16 cents per minute. Securus contracts with the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center and the Euclid City Jail for that price.
The county’s contract with Securus originally said the company could charge 35 cents a minute and the jail would get 70 percent. After the Federal Communications Commission set a maximum rate of 16 cents per minute for out-of-state calls to prisons the size of Cuyahoga, the company agreed to the addition, capping in-state and out-of-state calls at 16 cents. minutes Two cents per minute goes to jail as a commission.
From December 2021 to November 2022, the Cuyahoga County Jail received nearly $300,000 in phone calls, according to data provided by the state. County spokesman Tyler Sinclair said the commission goes into the jail’s general fund for administrative costs. The county has agreed to extend the contract through 2027, he said. Exchange to improve communication technology in prison. These include tablets and video calling devices for inmates.
Congress passed legislation in December that would allow the FCC to set restrictions on public calls as well. Wanda Bertram of the Jail Policy Initiative said the state cap would remain the same for out-of-state calls, meaning the cost of calls from the Cuyahoga County Jail would not change.
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Lott said he burned through a $20 phone card in two days, averaging seven or eight phone calls. It added up to hundreds of dollars each month, paid by relatives outside the prison.
“It’s stressful for them because they feel like it’s their responsibility,” she said. “If you have a girlfriend, she’ll be disappointed if she can’t make (the payments). It would be her pride (if) she has bills so she can’t help you.
Charles Trowbridge, now an inmate at the Allen Correctional Facility, said he spent $5,000 in the county jail in the past six weeks. It was several phone calls a day, mostly to his three-year-old son, sometimes with him.
The calls felt like a survival need, he said, when inmates struggled with mental illness exacerbated when they were in their locked cells. At the very least, he’d stop calling someone because he didn’t see the ability to share their financial burden as a sign of his likability. Trowbridge said he tried to kill himself several times in prison.
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“It really bothers me because if the system isn’t funded or doesn’t make money, they don’t really care if you talk to your family,” Trowbridge said. “They don’t really care if you spend quality time … with their kids, they should grow up knowing they’re loved.”
Trowbridge said he plans to use the savings to buy a carpentry business or a home. He spent almost all the money on legal defense and phone calls. Now that he is free, he says he has to start all over again.
Companies like Securus and ViaPath don’t charge the same for each device. The companies contract with state governments to determine the rates inmates will pay for phone calls, as well as other services such as video calls and e-mail. Postage, and often includes payments from company to government.
Securus has 42% of the prison and jail telephone service market, making it the largest company in the industry. As PPI reports, Securus handles calls from three locations in Dallas County, Texas, the lowest in the nation, excluding county or county jails where calls are toll-free.
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Meanwhile, a call through ViaPath from an Ohio prison costs just two cents per minute. According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections website, the two-cent rate for the state prison system took effect in 2021.
Annette Chambers-Smith, director of the Ohio Department of Corrections, said in a news release: “Family connection and communication between incarcerated individuals and their loved ones significantly increases future success and significantly reduces recidivism.” And so it was decided to cut costs for friends.
Lotte remembers when the change took effect. Now he says he is on the phone “all day, every day” at Ross Correctional Facility, where he is serving his sentence.
“You can be around your family more because you can communicate more on the phone,” he said. “Some kids want to hear it. They want to hear their father’s voice.
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Cid Standifer Email is a staff writer at the Marshall Project (Cleveland). He has more than a decade of reporting experience and has written for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Belt Magazine, Cleveland Scene, Eye on Ohio and The Washington Post. Before moving to Cleveland, he wrote about the military for Stars and Stripes, Military Times, Inside the Navy and USNI News. Stanifer holds a master’s degree in African history from Emory University and a bachelor’s degree in history and physics from Grinnell College. Biden signed the Combating Expensive Prison Phone Calls Act, legislation that would give federal regulators more power to limit the cost of prison phone calls. While rates vary by state, calls from jails typically cost $5 for a 30-minute call.
Prisoners at the York Community Rehabilitation Center receive one in six phone calls. John Moore/Getty Images Hide caption
Making Inmate Phone Calls From Federal Prison By Amandrobbi
Prisoners at the York Community Rehabilitation Center receive one in six phone calls.
The Martha Wright-Reid Fair and Equitable Communications Act of 2022, approved by Congress last month and signed into law Thursday, is a major victory for the Federal Communications Commission in a years-long battle to limit the amount of private companies from incarcerated individuals. Phone calls
National prisoners pay about $5 for a 30-minute phone call. The new bill aims to change that
Inmates pay about $5 for a 30-minute phone call. The new bill aims to change that
Why Cuyahoga County Jail’s Phone Calls Cost So Much
“Jails and prisons charge people who have been incarcerated for a long time,” Starks said. “The FCC is committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to communicate.”
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