HRDC FCC Comment re: Virginia DOC prison phone rate reduction-Dec 2015
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Human Rights Defense Center DEDICATED TO PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS 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 email@example.com Page |2 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. Sincerely, Paul Wright. Executive Director, HRDC Attachments 1-2