FCC Opens Proceeding to Implement the Martha Wright-Reed Act and Prevent Price Gouging by Prison Phone Providers
WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to begin a rulemaking process to implement the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2022.
The Act, which President Biden signed into law earlier this year, strengthens the agency’s authority to establish maximum rates for a wide range of communications services in prisons. It should allow incarcerated individuals to stay in contact with their families and loved ones without paying exorbitant fees to profit-seeking providers.
For years, groups — including Free Press Action, Color Of Change, United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry, the National Consumer Law Center and Worth Rises — have publicly pressured telecom companies, lawmakers and other key players to stop the price gouging of incarcerated people seeking to use these services. The FCC's rulemaking notice seeks comment on how the Commission should interpret the Act’s language to ensure just and reasonable rates for audio and video communications.
Free Press Action Internet Campaign Director Heather Franklin said:
“For far too long, incarcerated people and their loved ones have paid a high price for the predatory behavior of the correctional telecom industry. The ability for incarcerated people to maintain regular communication with loved ones, legal counsel and clergy is a human-rights issue. Incarcerated people should be able to connect and communicate without being subject to extortionate rates. We’re grateful to Congress for passing the Martha Wright-Reed Act and to the FCC for moving quickly toward implementation. Free Press Action looks forward to working with the FCC to ensure that the costs of all calls are just and reasonable.”