It just got easier for prisoners to keep in touch with their families by phone, a factor that improves an inmate's chances for turning his life around, authorities say.
"People with good family support are more successful," said Dianne Tramutola-Lawson, chairwoman of Colorado CURE, a prisoners rights group. "That's one of our biggest issues."
The high cost of phone charges has been a point of contention for years, Tamutola-Lawson said. It has become a huge expense for families that can't afford it, she said. Some families have had their phone service
shut off because they couldn't keep up with bills, she said. The new rates will drop charges beginning Thursday for standard collect, advanced pay collect and debit calls, Sanguinetti said.
Colorado inmates make more than 162,000 calls each month. Three out of four of the calls are debit calls, Sanguinetti said. Debit call rates will drop by 16 percent for local calls and 24 percent for out-of-state calls.
A 15-minute in-state debit call will now cost $2.75, which includes a $1.25 connection fee.
Advance pay collect plans allow families to budget phone calling with an inmate at a lower rate than typical collect calls. These calls will drop 39 percent for in-state calls and 74 percent of out-of-state calls. A 15-
minute in-state advance collect call will now cost $3.20.
Standard collect calls will drop by 22 percent for in-state calls and 72 percent for out-of-state calls. That 15-minute in-state call will cost $5.
Sanguinetti cited a 2004 study by the Urban Institute that said offenders with family connections are much more likely to be successful when they are released.
She said 97 percent of inmates will be released sooner or later.
"Maintaining pro-social communication and support with family and friends during an offender's period of incarceration can help to promote stable behavior in prison and successful, safe transition, back into
society," said Tom Clements, DOC executive director.
He urged family members to stay in contact with incarcerated relatives by visiting, writing letters and making phone calls.