Inmates are taking full advantage of city’s $8M free phone call policyMay 10, 2019
New York City jailbirds are now talking up a storm thanks to a new law providing free phone privileges at a cost of $8 million yearly to taxpayers.
Department of Correction officials testified during a City Council budget hearing Wednesday that inmates have made an average of 31,000 phone calls daily since the new law kicked off May 1.
That’s a 35 percent increases from the 23,000 calls the city’s nearly 8,000 inmates previously averaged.
Meanwhile, total phone minutes from the slammer are up from 170,000 minutes daily to 230,000.
“Free phone calls are a significant shift that represents this department and this city’s commitment to humane treatment of incarcerated people,” said DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann. “[The] … calls will also enhance individuals’ connections with their families and their communities.”
Under the new law championed by Speaker Corey Johnson, inmates are now entitled to 21 minutes of free phone privileges every three hours. Calls can last up to 15 minutes each, and even dangerous prisoners locked up in solitary confinement get a single, daily call of up to 15 minutes.
The law eliminated charges that started at 50 cents for the first minute and 5 cents for every additional minute, paid for out of commissary accounts.
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