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Prisoners Lose Again As Court Wipes Out Inmate Calling Price Caps

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Prisoners Lose Again As Court Wipes Out Inmate Calling Price Caps

Postby sunnyd » Tue Jun 13, 2017 2:45 pm

Story :

A federal appeals court today struck down price caps on intrastate phone calls made by prisoners. Inmates will thus have to continue paying high prices to make phone calls to family members, friends, and lawyers.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with prison phone company Global Tel*Link in its lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission. But that's exactly what the FCC's current leadership wanted. The FCC imposed the prison phone rate caps during the Obama administration, but current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai instructed commission lawyers to drop their court defense of the intrastate caps.

Today's court decision, a 2-1 vote by a three-judge panel, said that the FCC's proposed caps on intrastate rates exceed the commission's statutory authority under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Intrastate calls are those in which both parties are in the same state; judges noted that the FCC is generally forbidden from regulating intrastate communication services, which is left to individual states.

By contrast, courts have allowed the FCC to cap the price of interstate calls (i.e., calls that cross state lines). So while the FCC was able to implement rate caps of 21¢ to 25¢ per minute on interstate long-distance calls in a 2013 decision, attempts to reduce prices of in-state calls have failed.

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