<<Home Niagara Falls Reporter Archive>>

Grandmother's Pain Over Phone Bill Triggered Ruling

With a cruel nation incarcerating millions of non violent human chattel, many mothers are now in prison, sometimes on the l=slightest of offenses. while their children molder outside awaiting their returns home.

The issue first came to the FCC's attention in 2003 when a Washington, D.C.,-area woman, Martha Wright, said she was paying about $200 a month for one 15-minute phone call a week with her grandson, who was in prison.

Civil rights groups, who argue that the growing prison cell phone industry's profits have been made on the backs of poor, mostly black and Latino inmates, filed a class action lawsuit on her behalf; the case was dismissed by the judge, who referred Wright to the FCC.

In the nine years since, "tens of thousands of consumers" have "written, emailed, and yes, phoned the commission, pleading for relief on interstate long distance rates from correctional facilities," said FCC commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn.

Under the decision, companies like Global Tel Link trying to keep higher rates would have to file a request for a waiver and they could not charge more until that waiver is granted. Arguments like the loss of phone service altogether, the money being used for recreation and educational programs for the prisoners, are expected.

"It's been times when she did have to choose over paying for her medication or talk to me; that really does happen," said Ulandis Forte, a man convicted of murder, whose grandmother was the lead plaintiff in the original lawsuit. "I don't blame anybody for putting me in the position I was in; wholeheartedly I accept my responsibility, but in doing so it was so unjust at the pain my grandmother had to go through."



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Nov 05, 2013