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Bill would create maximum charge for inmate phone calls

by Ella McCarthy | March 6, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Many different bills have been proposed this session that would change inmate experiences in Missouri correction facilities. One would establish a limit on how much a correction center or outside party can charge an inmate for a phone call.

House Bill 2299, sponsored by Rep. Michael Davis, R-Kansas City, would create a maximum charge of $0.12 per minute for all domestic phone calls made by inmates, including fees and any per-minute rate.

"The policies that I'm encapsulating is setting reasonable limit on how much jails and their parties can charge telephone calls in their facilities," Davis said in a public hearing discussing the bill.

The fee for domestic calls made by inmates in jails is specified in the bill and varies based on the average daily population of the facility, the summary states.

"Speaking with the sheriffs we are working through the framework set by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission)," Davis said. "The FCC, May of last year, created regulations regarding how much can be charged in prisons and jails."

The bill also states beginning Jan. 1, 2026, and every three years following, the cents-per-minute limit will be adjusted for inflation following Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers or its successor index.

"It is very important that incarcerated individuals are able to stay in touch with their loved ones," the summary for those who testified in favor of the bill sayd. "They could suffer great mental health issues if they are cut off from their outside people, which they could effectively be if phone calls are cost prohibitive."

During the public hearing, it was also noted that since St. Louis County decreased phone rates for inmates they have seen a drop in violations and use of force in incidents at the jail.

"There is likely a correlation between the detainees' mental health and well-being and this drop in rates," according to the summary.

No testimonies were made in opposition of the bill.

"It's very easy for a new (presidential) administration to just change the rules for the FCC," Davis said. "By having it codified in state law, it would set these parameters into law rather than at the whim of a rule that could easily be overturned."

HB 2299 was passed out of the Special Committee on Criminal Justice and referred to the Committee on Rules-Administrative Oversight in mid-February.

Click the link below to read the full bill:

• HB 2299: Jail telephone service

Sponsor: Rep. Michael Davis


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