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More than 12-hundred missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: a pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; plus concerns that proposed Green-Card rules favor the wealthy.

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Advocates: Pack the Room to End Prison Phone Price Gouging

PHOTO: Calls to and from prison inmates can cost them and their families up to 24 times a normal call. The FCC holds a workshop today on whether it should act to discourage prison phone company gouging.
PHOTO: Calls to and from prison inmates can cost them and their families up to 24 times a normal call. The FCC holds a workshop today on whether it should act to discourage prison phone company gouging.
July 10, 2013

BETHESDA, Md. - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is finally responding to a 10-year-plus effort to examine charges of telephone price gouging in the nation's prisons. Today the FCC holds a public workshop to discuss whether or not they should lower the charges for prison phone calls, which can cost up to 24 times more than a normal call. Prison reform and media reform advocates are inviting people from around the Washington, D.C., area to fill the room and tell the prison phone industry what they think.

Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice, said the companies have not been forthcoming with FCC requests for data.

"This is really an opportunity for them to be on the spot and to really back up their claims that they need to be charging these exorbitant rates, these ridiculous fees to the families of prisoners," Renderos said.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has acknowledged that phone calls play a critical role in reducing recidivism by keeping inmates in frequent contact with their families.

Prison phone companies defend their rates, but Renderos said they have not responded to government requests to provide the justifying data.

"They didn't do that," he said. "This workshop is really an opportunity to bring those prison telephone companies to the table and ask them some of those very difficult questions."

The workshop is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the FCC Commission Meeting Room, 445 12th St., S.W., Washington, D.C.

"If you happen to live in the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia area, you can come on down to the Federal Communications Commission," Renderos said. "Folks outside this area can stream it live online by visiting www.FCC.gov/."

Anyone can submit questions there, too, and be a virtual participant. Advocates are also encouraging people to share their stories on Facebook and Twitter by using #phonejustice and #FCC.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - MD