Last updated on July 21st, 2016 at 05:30 pm
Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall announced today a dramatic change in the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) phone contract that will make inmate-calling rates one of the lowest in the country, and the lowest in Tennessee. Davidson County will reduce all per minute call rates, local and intrastate, to five cents per minute. It’s a policy move with a positive impact.
“Inmate families have enough to deal with when a loved one is in jail and I felt strongly we should do what we can to relieve some of their burden,” Hall said. “It is critically important inmates receive family support and many families made great sacrifices to afford previous call costs. We hope this change will relieve stress on inmate families and reduce recidivism by ensuring family connections stay intact.
“The phone service provider, Global Tel*Link (GTL), has proven to be a fantastic partner by ensuring we receive the service needed and, at the same time, get a contract in place that accomplishes the goal of assisting inmate families.”
The issue of inmate call rates has made headlines across the country and been on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) radar for nearly a decade. Last year, the FCC issued an order related to inmate telephone pricing. It dictated call rates for jails should be no greater than 14 cents per minute and reduced or eliminated other fees and surcharges. The order directly related to the call rates was soon followed by a stay; however, Hall believes the FCC order was valid.
“Although the courts issued a stay for the FCC order (meaning it was not necessary to change call rates), I believe it is the correct public policy to lower these rates and make a phone call home within reach to all inmates,” Hall said. “The vast majority of inmates in our jails and jails across the country are in a pretrial status. They have not been found guilty of any crime; therefore, they should have access to the privilege of calling loved ones regardless of their economic status.”
According to Malinda Davenport-Crisp, executive director of Family Reconciliation Center, “Family support is vitally important to incarcerated people, in fact, it is the number one predictor of successful re-entry. Regular telephone contact is at the heart of that family support. We’re grateful Sheriff Hall recognizes the importance of low-cost telephone use for people behind bar.”