High cost of calling from jail is unjustifiable

I strongly support the lawsuit against Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson and Securus Technologies for overcharging incarcerated individuals and their families for calls (“Lawsuit challenges cost of calling from jail,” Metro, May 6). Studies show that maintaining communication for the incarcerated lowers recidivism. A $3.16 rate for the first minute is unjustifiable, especially since it violates an interim state Department of Telecommunications and Cable cap of 21 cents per minute.

The problem goes beyond Bristol County. Securus is violating the DTC cap in other jails where it operates. Moreover, all Massachusetts jails and the state receive kickbacks, or so-called commissions. The state gets commissions of 76 percent on these contracts, which are passed on to incarcerated individuals and their families. Barnstable receives an 85 percent commission. Parents shouldn’t have to forgo calls to their children just so the state can increase its revenue, taking from those who can least afford it. Massachusetts should follow other states and ban commissions altogether. State Senator Mark Montigny’s bill, S. 1336, would do that. It also requires contracts to be awarded to companies offering the lowest rates. It is unfair for families to have to choose between paying for calls to loved ones and essential bills.

Karina Wilkinson