June 12, 2019

Pai, FCC Commissioners Reaffirm Support for Clarifying FCC’s Authority to Address Predatory Prison Rates During Senate Hearing


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — At today’s U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee Hearing, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners Michael O’Rielly, Brendan Carr, Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks reaffirmed to Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) their support for clarifying the FCC’s legal authority to end predatory prison phone rates that gouge vulnerable families. Duckworth introduced the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act (S.1764) yesterday, bipartisan legislation that clarifies the FCC’s ability to end unjust and unreasonable rates and help families keep in touch with loved ones while reducing recidivism. Chairman Pai also committed to meeting with Senator Duckworth and advocate groups to discuss possible actions to enforce the FCC’s out-of-state phone rate caps, which often still far exceed the designated limits. Video from today’s hearing is available here.

“I’m glad Chairman Pai and all of the Commissioners made it clear today that they support efforts to clarify the FCC’s authority to end these outrageous phone call rates,” Duckworth said. “I’ll keep working to pass the bipartisan Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act so that no more families are forced to pay these exorbitant rates just to speak with their loved ones.”

More information on the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act is available here. This legislation is named after Martha Wright-Reed, who advocated for more affordable phone rates for more than 20 years. After Martha’s grandson became incarcerated and she discovered how expensive it was to keep in contact with him, she sued the Corrections Corporation of American for their exorbitantly high phone call rates. The FCC announced they were capping interstate prison phone call rates in 2013 after years of hard work by Martha Wright-Reed and other advocates.