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This common-sense bill will remove the unjust cost barrier to phone calls for incarcerated people and their families.

An Act relative to inmate telephone call rates will foster continued relationships between and among incarcerated people and their family members. The current system unfairly and unethically transfers to incarcerated people, but also their family members, the responsibility for generating additional sources of revenue for the state through the mechanism of high phone rates. It does this at the same time it disincentivizes incarcerated people from maintaining family support systems on which they rely to endure incarceration and upon which they will need to depend for post-release supports.

Given the disproportionate impact of the criminal system and incarceration on people of color and low income individuals, these punitive mechanisms to raise revenue are exploiting some of the most marginalized and vulnerable members of the community. An incarcerated individual’s family should not be penalized and punished during already stressful and destabilizing periods as a means of raising revenue for the criminal system. Massachusetts should join Connecticut, which recently became the first state to enact similar legislation, at the forefront of efforts to reduce the systemic harm exacted on the families of incarcerated individuals through exorbitant billing practices.

Read GLAD’s full testimony