Study: Some Wisconsin jails charge high fees for phone calls

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new study says some county jails in Wisconsin are charging well over the national average for prisoners to make phone calls to family members and lawyers.
The Massachusetts-based nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative released a report last month that shows some Wisconsin county jails are charging up to $22 for 15-minute phone calls.
The nonprofit’s spokeswoman, Wanda Bertram, tells Wisconsin Public Radio that the state’s jails average about $8 per 15-minute phone call, compared to the nationwide average around $5.61.
Bertram says the phone fees are so high in part because the few major jail phone providers in the country compete for contracts by offering commissions and kickbacks to jails.
Bertram says jails capitalize on the revenue because it’s often difficult to make ends meet, particularly in rural areas.

Tom Lally

Tom Lally

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