PNS National Newscast

Audio Activation
"Siri, play the Public News Service (podcast)"
"Hey Google, play the Public News Service podcast"
"Alexa, play Public News Service podcast"
or "Alexa, what's my news flash?" once you set it up in the Alexa app

2020Talks

Audio Activation
"Siri, play the 2020Talks podcast"
"Hey Google, play the 2020Talks podcast"
"Alexa, play Two-Thousand-Twenty Talks podcast"
or "Alexa, what's my news flash?" once you set it up in the Alexa app

Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - October 19, 2920 


Trailing Biden in Nevada, Trump holds a jam-packed Carson City rally. And with COVID a major election issue, hospitals help patients register to vote.


2020Talks - October 19, 2020 


Litigation is ongoing on ballot receipt deadlines, witness signatures and drop boxes. And early voting starts in a dozen states this week.

MA Lawmakers Consider Free Phone Calls from Prisons, Jails

In the Massachusetts General Court, a bill to make phone calls free from prisons and jails during the pandemic has reported favorably out of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. (Pikist/Creative Commons)
In the Massachusetts General Court, a bill to make phone calls free from prisons and jails during the pandemic has reported favorably out of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. (Pikist/Creative Commons)
September 28, 2020

BOSTON, Mass. -- As COVID-19 spreads through prisons and jails, there's legislation - both state and federal - to curb the high price of phone calls for people who are incarcerated, including in Massachusetts.

In some parts of the country, a 15-minute call from behind bars can cost $25. Close to 20 U.S. senators want to make these calls free as a part of a coronavirus relief package, which so far is stalled.

Massachusetts State Senator Cynthia Creem is the sponsor of a Commonwealth bill to make calls from prisons and jails free during the pandemic. She said she sees it as a crucial accommodation.

"The importance of a lifeline between the families and their prisoner is so important," Creem said. "Not only is it important for the person in the prison, it's important for the children who have a parent in prison."

But phone charges are revenue-generators for the corrections system, and some Massachusetts sheriffs worry that making them free would force cuts to programs. Another bill would lower but not eliminate the cost of these calls.

Creem hopes current state budget negotiations will include either bill. The senator pointed out that facilities in the Massachusetts Department of Correction make a lot of money from people making phone calls from jail or prison.

"In 2018, Massachusetts prisons and jails made $9 million in commissions by charging prisoners outrageous prices to talk to their loved ones," she said.

In terms of its budget, she added, the department generally gets the resources it asks for from the state and could survive without the phone revenue. In recent years, the cities of New York and San Francisco have passed laws to make phone calls from jails free.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - MA