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Outrageous rates charged for prison phone calls breaks family ties

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For example, explicit endorsements of the proposal have come from the American Bar Association (representing some 400,000 lawyers), the National Association of State Utilities Consumer Advocates (representing members in 40 states), the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (representing some 700 programs and 1200 lawyers), and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (representing 12,000 members and 40,000 affiliate members). The proposal has also been supported by the D.C. Office of the People's Counsel, the executive director of Vera Institute's Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons, the Brennan Center for Justice, Ad Hoc Coalition for the Right to Communicate, the Public Defender for the Eleventh Judicial District of Florida (whose 180 attorneys defend about 100,000 indigent clients each year), and perhaps as many as two dozen private citizens and consumers.

"The merits of such an approach are obvious. However, because of the influence of the industry, meaningful reform may depend on people who will file comments with the FCC decrying unethical and illegitimate industry practices and supporting the comprehensive proposal. Of course, that means the families and friends of prisoners, concerned citizens, attorneys, and prisoners, themselves. In the interest of fairness and to protect these consumers from shameless exploitation, let's hope the FCC acts expeditiously.

""Michael S. Hamden has practiced law for 24 years and also serves as a consultant on corrections law and policy. Hamden is co-editor of The Law and Policy of Sentencing and Corrections with Lynn S. Branham (7th ed. 2005). With the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Hamden is vice-chair of the Corrections Committee. A long-standing member of the American Bar Association, Hamden co-chaired the ABA's Corrections and Sentencing Committee and presently serves on the Criminal Justice Section Counsel.
As the ABA's liaison to the American Correctional Association, Hamden served on the Standards Committee, as a Commissioner of Accreditation, and is an ACA Certified Accreditation Auditor. From 1995 through 1996, Hamden served as a member of the Committee on Ethical Considerations for Research Involving Prisoners (National Academies of Science, Institute of Medicine). For additional information or to contact Mr. Hamden, visit

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B. Cayenne Bird is a 45-year veteran op-ed journalist and publisher. A descendant of Mary Todd Lincoln, and General Andrew Porter, she is passionate about human rights and criminal justice issues. A mother and grandmother with advanced degrees in (more...)

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