JAIL PHONE SYSTEMS
The eTc Campaign does not focus on problems associated with jail telephone systems
for several reasons:
Nonetheless, the problems with jail systems are just as serious – and, in some ways, more troubling, because:
For those who do wish to work on improving jail phone systems, we recommend that you work with the commissioners or councilpersons who oversee the workings of the jurisdiction. So, for example, you may want to contact a county commissioner or a city councilperson – depending upon whether the jail is a county or city facility. Natural allies in the effort are the friends and family members of other incarcerated persons and individuals who work in the jail ministry.
While we are not able to address the jail situation, we do occasionally receive information on jail phone systems. We have included the highlights of that information below.
CALIFORNIA: On December 3, 2006, Ryan Sabalow of the Record Searchlight in Redding, CA reported on jail phone systems in California. Among the data reported were the following:
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: To our knowledge the DC Jail is the only facility in the country that allows inmates to call 800 numbers.
MARYLAND: In November 2006, we were informed that the Montgomery County Jail had issued a request for proposal (RFP) with a statement of intent that read, in part, “The intent of the RFP is to … award a contract to the offeror who can provide the lowest possible cost of telephone services…. To facilitate this in part, the County … will accept no commission payment….”
WISCONSIN: In July 2007, Dane County (Madison area) Board Supervisor Ashok Kumar introduced and ordinance with two provisions:
The ordinance is supported by the Madison-area Urban Ministry, Voices Beyond Bars, and the Prison Ministry Program. Mr. Kumar was quoted, “If we pass this, we’ll be the first county to do something like this. We could create a model to replicate across the country.”
The ordinance was adopted.