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Tyler Richard, (402) 476-8091 x104, trichard@aclunebraska.org

April 14, 2016

New rules from the FCC prevent private companies from excessively profiting off of those behind bars

LINCOLN, Neb – On Wednesday the ACLU of Nebraska sent guidance to all Nebraska jails related to new rules from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) related to phone calls from those serving time in jails. The FCC has capped or eliminated many excessive charges that imposed high costs on calls home and to attorneys. According to the FCC, the rules come as part of the organization’s mandate to ensure fair and reasonable rates for all Americans and are an attempt to “rein in the excessive rates and egregious fees on phone calls paid by…people trying to stay in touch with loved ones serving time in jail or prison.”

“The best outcomes for public safety occur when those behind bars have the support they need to not return to crime,” said ACLU of Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller. “For many inmates, family members are the most important support they have. We can reduce recidivism by allowing people to maintain contact with their family members. When jails follow the new rules related to phone calls they are not only complying with the FCC they are strengthening public safety.”

The issue came to the attention of the ACLU after hearing complaints from defense attorneys about excessive fees being charged in multiple Nebraska jails. The fees made it difficult for attorneys to communicate with their clients. Because the new rules were already in development, the ACLU did not take action on the complaints.

While Nebraska does not have any private prisons in operation, the ACLU says this regulation will help to ensure those behind bars do not become profit centers for private corporations.

“The goals of our correctional system should be to rehabilitate and improve public safety,” said Miller. “The families of inmates should not become profit centers for private corporations that have exclusive contracts with government agencies.”

Jails have until June 20, 2016 to comply with the rules or face fines from the FCC.

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