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HRDC FCC Comment re: Virginia DOC prison phone rate reduction-Dec 2015

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Human Rights Defense Center

December 31, 2015

The Honorable Tom Wheeler, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St. S.W.
Washington DC 20554
Re: Comment for WC Docket 12-375
Dear Chairman Wheeler:
The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) respectfully submits this comment for WC Docket
No. 12-375 in reference to the following press release issued by Virginia Governor Terry
McAuliffe announcing a reduction in prison phone rates effective December 1, 2015:

“Governor McAuliffe Announces Further Reduction on Inmate Phone Call Rates”
(December 23, 2015) [Attachment 1].

The release states that the Virginia DOC (VA DOC) has worked with Global Tel*Link (GTL)
over the past five years “to lower phone rates drastically” and that offenders now pay about
$0.04/min. HRDC confirmed with Lisa Kinney, VA DOC’s Director of Communications that
the rate is $0.0409/min for all calls [Attachment 2], which calculates to a cost of $0.62 for a 15minute call. VA DOC does not receive a kickback from GTL.
We note with interest the quote from Brian Oliver, CEO of GTL in the Governor’s press release
dated December 23, 2015:
“This is an excellent example of how partners who share common
goals can work together to reduce the cost of phone calls to friends
and family members and still provide the necessary security and
safety features to protect the public.” (emphasis added)
[Attachment 1 at Page 1].

P.O. Box 1151
Lake Worth, FL 33460
Phone: 561-360-2523 Fax: 866-735-7136

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This statement is in stark contrast to comments made by some ICS providers and corrections
officials with respect to the costs of providing ICS services where they claim that the rate caps
set by the FCC do not account for their security needs and profit desires. Once again, we believe
the lack of transparency in the ICS industry in terms of their profit margins, how they obtain
contracts, etc., harms consumers and the public at large. We urge the FCC to use its subpoena
power to independently review the actual costs and profitably of the major ICS providers.
Thank you for your time and attention in this regard.

Paul Wright.
Executive Director, HRDC
Attachments 1-2