Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Prisoners Respond to Call for Prison Phone Justice; SCI-Huntingdon Delivers!

In June 2012 we posted the first advertisement for the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice in Prison Legal News. We asked you, our readers, to send letters to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) describing how you and your families have been impacted by the high cost of prison telephone calls.

One year later, close to 100,000 people and organizations have submitted comments or signed on to petitions filed with the FCC asking the Commission to act on the "Wright Petition" to lower the cost of interstate prison phone calls.

Between July 2012 and June 2013, prisoners submitted or signed on to 1,754 letters or comments filed with the FCC regarding the Wright Petition.* It is clear that many prisoners have been hard at work, organizing to inundate the FCC with stories of unfair phone rates, financial hardship and the struggle to maintain connections with their families.

Pennsylvania prisoners contributed more than 540 letters to the FCC, making up almost a third of the total prisoner filings. Pennsylvania was the only state where more than one letter was submitted per 100 prisoners statewide.

The most filings of any prison or jail came from SCI-Huntingdon in Huntingdon, PA, with 174 letters submitted to the FCC. In their comments, many prisoners at SCI-Huntingdon called for "no connection fees," "no commissions" and "a 10 minute free call for all inmates daily," among other recommendations.

Prisoners at SCI-Greene in Waynesburg, PA came in second with 147 letters submitted. The third-highest number of letters, 72, came from prisoners at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, Michigan.

Overall, the states with the highest numbers of prisoner filings were Pennsylvania (542), Michigan (179), Virginia (154), California (125), Illinois (99), West Virginia (49) and Tennessee (43).

However, those are mostly states with high prisoner populations. Taking into account the number of letters filed relative to the size of a state's prison population, prisoners in several other states made notable contributions: Alaska (19), Colorado (28), Iowa (18), Kansas (14), Nevada (22) and Washington (27).

Kudos go to the Huttonsville Correctional Center in West Virginia, where 36 prisoners signed on to a letter to the FCC (representing approximately .5% of West Virginia's entire prison population). Each prisoner contributed personal comments to the joint letter.

When we first encouraged our readers to contact the FCC in the June 2012 issue of PLN, we said "the prison facility which registers the most letters will be highlighted on the campaign website and will get a co-producer credit on our national radio program addressing the high cost of prison phone calls."

Thus, we will highlight the efforts of prisoners at SCI-Huntingdon on our Campaign website and give them a shout-out on the Campaign's national radio program. Congratulations for submitting the most letters regarding the Wright Petition!

We also want to thank the Prison Policy Initiative, Sum of Us, Justice Fellowship, CREDO Mobile and Color of Change for collectively obtaining around 90,000 signatures on petitions and comments filed with the FCC between November 2012 and March 2013.

On behalf of the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, we thank everyone who has sent letters to the FCC sharing your stories and standing up for change. The comment period on the Wright Petition is now closed and the FCC is currently reviewing thousands of submissions – including those filed by prison phone companies, civil rights organizations, law firms, and prisoners and their family members. Stay tuned for updates on the Campaign.

* This number is approximate. As it can take several weeks for the FCC to post filings on its website, the number is probably low. Also, many of the comments posted on the FCC's docket had incomplete identifying information, so some submissions could not be credited to a specific individual or prison facility.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login