New York City is about to become the first major US city to offer free phone calls from all of their correctional facilities.
The bill, which was approved by the New York City Council and signed by Mayor de Blasio this week, will save inmates and their families an estimated $8 million per year in phone calls.
“Unfortunately, the city has been profiting from some of the poorest and most vulnerable New Yorkers for years,” Corey Johnson, City Council speaker and sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “Thankfully, that is now going to stop.”
Currently, phone calls from correctional facilities cost 50 cents per calls, plus an additional 5 cents per minute and additional fees for depositing funds. A 15-minute conversation can cost anywhere from $10 to $17 – and according to the New York Times, there are about 26,000 calls made from city prisons every day, which generate thousands of dollars in revenue for a private company.
Once the measure goes into full effect in 270 days, anyone being held in a prison or jail will be able to call their families and lawyers free of charge.
The measure is especially beneficial for inmates because studies show that maintaining contact with friends and families decreases the likelihood of recidivism and increases chances of employment after release. Children who maintain close bonds with incarcerated parents are also shown to display reduced rates of delinquency and behavioral problems.
Be Sure And Share The Good News With Your Friends – Representative photo LeylanR, CC