by: Curtis A Brown
Photograph by: Credit Daniel Rosenbaum for The
New York Times
FCC 13-113 Overview
August 9, 2013 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a new rule, FCC 13-113, which imposes a strict inmate interstate call
rate cap. The new rule, which will
affect only calls made from one state to another, requires inmate communication
providers to charge no more than $0.21 per minute for interstate prepaid calling
and $0.25 per minute for interstate collect calling. It also suggests that further regulation may
be still to come, including ancillary charges as well as video visitation
services. Furthermore, the FCC strongly
recommends that the states themselves adopt new regulation capping inmate call
rates. Many of our clients have asked if
further regulation is on the horizon and what they can expect in the coming
state of Alabama has already taken up action proposing revised inmate phone service
Public Service Commission (APSC) Docket 15957. APSC 15957
is currently in the comment stage with final rule-making expected this year. FCC 13-113 is used throughout the proposed
rule to justify further regulation of inmate calling in the state of Alabama.
the FCC has encouraged each state to review
their current regulations, most do not currently have active dockets
considering new rules. However, it is
likely that others will consider adopting new rules as the calendar
progresses. Here at Legacy, we employ a
full-time Regulatory Affairs Department that is active with each state’s
regulatory agency as well as the FCC. We
will utilize our social
media sites as well as monthly newsletters and continued proactive customer
care personnel to keep our clients well-informed of any pending or proposed
regulation as it may come up.
Picture of: Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. head, center,
with Michael Copps, left, and Robert McDowell.
Photograph by: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News
Is regulation a bad thing?
not, but bad regulation is just that—bad.
Providing services to correctional facilities requires much more than
connecting a call from a jail to another destination. Numerous investigative and biometric
solutions are also provided. Call recording
storage and secure data management are an absolute in almost all cases. The kind of equipment required to support an
inmate population is not only a considerable expense, but requires extensive
repair and replacement due to inmate population usage. In many cases, support personnel are required
on site to manage and support prisons of large size. But much more to the point, rate caps,
especially FCC 13-113, apply a “one size fits all” mentality to an industry
that has very unique requirements. In
most cases, inmate communications
revenues are shared with the correctional facilities themselves in
percentages that vary depending on the needs of the individual facility, county
rates are proposed by taking all of these realities into consideration on a
case-by-case basis. Each facility is unique in their requirements and needs. In ruling 13-113 the FCC stated that they
would not consider that revenues are shared with the correctional facilities
themselves in deciding the final rate.
That statement itself identifies a clear disconnect from what is
happening in these facilities and the needs of individual states. Legacy’s customers are city, county and state
governments, not “for profit” companies.
The funds made from inmate
calling are, in most cases, utilized for things like an “inmate welfare fund.” Indeed, these facility revenues end up
invested back into the very cities, counties and states we service.
Who Dictates Inmate Call Rates?
it is imperative to understand that it is the facilities themselves that dictate an acceptable rate to apply to
inmate calls. This is done by way of
a thorough bidding process. On average,
a county jail requesting bids for inmate call services receives bids from over twelve
(12) different inmate communications providers.
Twelve separate companies. In
ruling 13-113 the FCC states that it wants to create more competition in the
marketplace to further increase chances of lowering rates. Regulation will not create more competition;
it will exclude it. The market in the United
States has over fifty-six (56) identifiable inmate communications providers. Lack of competition is not a problem. Overregulation can be.
clients have not received one formal complaint regarding inmate call rates and
services over the past five (5) years.
In that time we have connected millions of inmate telephone calls. Our
rates always consider the friends and family of the incarcerated. The charge must be one that meets the needs
of the correctional facility, the inmate, and
the friends and family of the incarcerated.
Our track record is proof that the facilities themselves, which are
largely government operated and controlled, are more than effective at ensuring
the needs of all parties can be met without overregulation.
be done to help stem the tide of overregulation? Our clients can rest assured that Legacy will
be very active in the regulatory arena.
However, it is just as imperative that counties and cities are active
in speaking with their state representatives. What do inmate call revenues bring to your
correctional facility? How do you police
your own call rates and charges? Is it a
factor in your Requests for Proposals (RFPs)?
Help educate your representatives on what is happening inside your own
facility. By doing so we believe that
proper regulation can come about. If we
are not all active in stating the facts as they stand, rulings much like FCC
13-113 will continue, not only decreasing revenues but also decreasing
competition and reducing the tide made by the vast technology improvements of
the past ten years.
know your thoughts on the FCC ruling by leaving a comment below, or dropping us
a line on Facebook or Google+.
Legacy is a nationwide provider and has been a leader in the
inmate communications industry for over 17 years, with headquarters in Cypress,
California. We provide favorable rates
for friends and family, unparalleled customer service and a host of technology
options that complement all parties involved in reducing inmate recidivism. Legacy
is unique in that it is a single-source provider, researching, developing,
building integration and implementing every aspect of its Inmate Telephone
Systems and Video Visitation Systems.