The High Price of Imprisonment

A growing list of costs are being passed on to inmates and their families

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As incarceration rates continue to grow around the United States, the enormous costs of some prison services are increasingly being paid by those who can least afford it – the families of inmates.

When the DC Department of Corrections closed its notorious prison facility in Lorton, Virginia in 2001, Ulandis Forte, in prison for murder, was relocated to facilities far away from home, and family. His grandmother, Martha Wright, nearly blind and unable to travel, made frequent calls to prisons out of state, first in New Mexico, then Arizona, then Kentucky, only to find herself deeply in hardship and debt due to exorbitant fees charged by the private companies contracted to provide prison phone services.

Forte and Wright are only the most well known among thousands of families struggling to stay in contact with incarcerated relatives. Their fight lies at the heart of more than a decade of work by lawyers and activists, in courts and before the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to find relief.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of ONYX.

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