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ILBCF: Ammons’ Bill curbs exorbitant inmate calling charges

ihlbcSPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, says telephone calls placed by inmates in Illinois correctional facilities are being inflated and costing the families of incarcerated individuals more than they can bear financially. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation applauds Representative Ammons for her leadership to ensure inmates can continue communicating with their families.

“Currently, Illinois correctional facilities have telephone service contracts where the service provider pays 76 cents on every dollar to make phone call to the state,” Ammons said. “For the Department of Corrections to make an excessive profit by taking advantage of vulnerable and financially struggling families who only want to speak with their loved ones is an injustice.”

Ammons sponsored legislation to cap the amount that phone calls placed by inmates in the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice. The state receives about $12 million each year from those commissions.

Under the measure, prison phone calls could only cost a maximum of 7 cents per minute – with international calls at 23 cents per minute – cutting the rate by more than half.

“The Family Connections bill is more than just financial relief for families trying to maintain a relationship with their loved ones who are incarcerated. It is an example of the impact the Illinois General Assembly can have on criminal justice reform when we work together and with the support and cooperation of the Governor’s office.”

The bill passed the House in early May with a vote of 69-44 and passed the Senate late May on a vote of 54-0. Governor Rauner signed the bill earlier this week North Lawndale Adult Transition Center, 2839 W Fillmore Street.

“Tacking on additional, unwarranted financial stress to individuals who are in correctional facilities doesn’t help the rehabilitation process,” said Larry Luster, Executive Director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. “We send people to correctional facilities to be corrected, not discourage them from communicating with their children and other family members. Speaking with a child while incarcerated can be one of the most rehabilitative experiences.”

House Bill 6200 is supported by Illinois Campaign for Prison Phone Justice and Media Action Grassroots Network.