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Long-distance prison calling rates slashed by the FCC

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High-tech safeguards are used to block prison inmates from calling victims, prosecutors, witnesses and other persons who they shouldn't be in contact with, but the maintenance of those protection systems has long been used as a reason for gouging the price of a simple phone call to friends and family. Starting today, that won't be the case for long-distance calls. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Friday that it had taken "long-overdue steps" and voted to change how interstate calling rates work for the US prison system. Under the reform, a 15 minute will cost no more than $3.75, while it previously would have run over $17.

That's still pricey, but the FCC suggests that the charges will be even lower once providers update their rate plans. Ultimately, a 15-minute interstate phone call should only cost about $1.80. Despite dropping the rates, the very same calling safeguards will remain in place. Those can include biometric tools that verify the caller, voice recording systems, and monitoring services that prevent call forwarding and three-way calling. The commission hopes the new rates will allow inmates to better connect with people they know, and therefore be in better shape when they're released.