NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Do Prisoners Call 1-800-COLLECT?

April 4, 2001

A new federal policy will limit the amount of time prison inmates can spend talking on the phone. Prisoner advocacy groups say the 300 minutes per month cap will only further isolate prisoners from family and friends, and increase recidivism.

But the U.S. Bureau of Prisons say it is necessary to crack down on abuse of phone privileges by some prisoners.

  • Previously, federal inmates could make unlimited telephone calls and pay for them from personal debit accounts -- which include money earned in prison or sent by relatives.
  • Each prisoner also was permitted 120 minutes per month in collect calls.
  • The new 300 minute limit does not include calls made to defense attorneys or other legal advisers.
  • Bureau officials say the limits will help control attempts by some inmates to run drug rings or other criminal operations from prisons.

All telephone calls in the nation's 98 federal prisons are routinely monitored or recorded, except calls to lawyers. Calling costs for federal inmates range from four cents per minute for local calls to 85 cents per minute for calls outside North America.

Source: Dan Eggan, "U.S. Restricts Phone Calls by Federal Inmates," Washington Post, April 3, 2001.


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