Massachusetts allows free calls for incarcerated
Chris Lisinski reports in the Berkshire Eagle that as of Dec. 1 anyone incarcerated in Massachusetts can make unlimited no-cost phone calls. On Nov. 16 Gov. Maura Healey signed the bill making Massachusetts the fifth state in the country to allow incarcerated individuals to make unlimited phone calls free of charge. Massachusetts, though, is the first state in the country to extend the free call rule to county jails. William Ragland, chair of the African American Coalition Committee of men incarcerated at MCI-Norfolk, said, "Black and brown people — many in poverty — make up 21 percent of the Massachusetts population but roughly 60 percent of its prison and jail population. It is a monstrosity and repugnant. It's not surprising then that Black and brown people spend the most on phone calls, video calls, and e-messages with their incarcerated loved ones, to the tune of $25 million annually.... Given our low prison wages, our families are often left with the bill, deciding whether to put money on their loved ones' phone accounts or pay their rent, put gas in their cars, or put food on their tables. This is all while prisons, jails, and their telecom vendors rake in profits." Healey said, "Ensuring that individuals in state and county prisons can keep in contact with their loved ones is key to enhancing rehabilitation, reducing recidivism, and improving community safety.... I'm proud to sign this important legislation and grateful to the Legislature and advocates for their partnership." Read more about this story in the Berkshire Eagle.