New York City inmates will now be able to make phone calls free of charge.
According to reports, New York City Council approved a bill Wednesday (July 18) which will make its way to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desk to become law. Quarterbacked by Speaker Corey Johnson, the bill now allows inmates to phone home freely.
“Families and friends of incarcerated individuals should not have to choose between hearing from their loved ones and paying their bills just because these individuals cannot afford to pay for phone calls,” Johnson said. “Introduction 741-A will guarantee that individuals who are in custody in our jails do not have to pay to stay in touch with the people who support them and ensure the City does not make any money off these phone calls.”
The city’s phone system is run by Securus.
The new law will save families about $8 million, according to the Brooklyn Defender Services, who advocated for free calls. On Rikers Island alone, there are an estimated 10,000 inmates.
“Thousands of people in NYC jails are there solely because a court set money bail beyond what they could afford, 88 percent are Black and/or Latinx, and nearly all experience deep poverty,” the organization wrote on Facebook. “Now, they will be able to maintain crucial lifelines to loved ones in the community without sacrificing scarce dollars for the profits of jail profiteer Securus.”
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