Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Eliot Spitzer, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner

Contact: Erik Kriss
Office of Public Information
(518) 457-8182

For immediate release:

December 13, 2007

Inmate collect call phone rates reduced again

For the second time this year, rates have dropped for New Yorkers receiving collect telephone calls from state prison inmates. Costs are now 57.5 percent below where they stood in March.

Inmates’ families and loved ones have saved more than $10.5 million based on the volume of calls since the lower rates went into effect. The cost of a 20-minute phone call - the average length of a call from an inmate – has dropped to $2.68, from $6.20 prior to April 1. The most recent rate reduction went into effect in October by expedited order of the Public Service Commission.

Governor Eliot Spitzer ordered the initial 50 percent rate reduction, which took effect at the beginning of the 2007-08 state fiscal year April 1.

The Department of Correctional Services’ one-year contract extension with Global Tel Link, Inc., which runs from April 1, 2007 through March 31, 2008, triggered a second rate reduction if call volume increased by at least 18 percent in the first six months of the contract. Call volume, as measured in completed calls, increased by 35 percent during that period (April 1 through Sept. 30) as compared to the prior six months (Oct. 1, 2006 through March 31, 2007), while the number of call minutes jumped by 36 percent.

Governor Spitzer’s action, which he announced shortly after taking office in January, has ensured that those receiving collect calls from inmates pay only the cost of the call. DOCS’ Phone Home Program is essential to maintaining communication between the state's nearly 63,000 inmates and their families and loved ones. The program represents a key component in strengthening the support system critical to inmates’ success both while in prison and after their release.

DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer said: “We are pleased to follow through on Governor Spitzer’s commitment to increasing all-important communication during incarceration by making phone calls more affordable for inmates’ families. Addressing family relationship issues is an important aspect to the Department’s overall programmatic initiatives.”

The Public Service Commission’s Oct. 5 action resulted in a reduction in the per-call surcharge to $1.28, from $1.50, and a drop in the per-minute use charge to 6.8 cents per minute, from 8 cents per minute. Prior to April, the per-call surcharge stood at $3 and the per-minute use charge at 16 cents.