VOCAL-NY Encourages Fair and Free Calls for Inmates, Reported by the Observer

Posted on April 24, 2018

NYC Could Be Required to Provide Inmates With Free Telephone Calls

Originally Posted in the Observer on April 23, 2018
Written by Madina Toure

New York City lawmakers and advocates are pushing the city to allow inmates in city jails to make phone calls for free in an effort to prevent the city from using the jail phone as a revenue source.

Nick Encalada-Malinowski of nonprofit VOCAL-New York told Observer that the city currently has a line item in the proposed fiscal year 2019 budget indicating $5 million in revenue generated from phone calls from city jails. DOC confirmed to Observer that anticipates it will collect that amount annually from inmate telephone fees.

“We don’t want the end result of our advocacy to be that people get one free phone call a week and that’s it,” Encalada-Malinowski added. “The reason that the phone calls are important is because it allows people to stay in touch.”

The speaker’s office told Observer that the current policies are that inmates get a fixed number of local calls per week but any calls in addition to that—including long-distance calls—cost money. The bill would make all calls free.

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