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Minority Group Endorses Prison Payphone Reform

4/2/2013, 10 a.m.

In comments filed recently with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), members of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) endorsed the 2003 Wright Petition that seeks FCC action to proscribe excessive payphone rates.

"The burden of staying connected with loved ones in prison falls heaviest on families with the least ability to pay, often forcing them to make harrowing choices between maintaining communication or putting food on the table," said MMTC President David Honig. "Unreasonably high prison phone rate practices reflect poorly on the moral stature of the telephone industry and diminish public confidence in the industry, especially among the underserved."

MMTC's members have also expressed gratitude to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who led the Commission's initiative to take on the issue through rulemaking.

For the past 10 years, the fight for prison payphone justice has been waged by the Prison Phone Rates Collaborative and the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, which MMTC inducted into its Hall of Fame at the January 2013 MMTC Broadband & Social Justice Summit.

On March 25, MMTC commended Verizon for its eloquent and thorough comments in support of the Wright Petition. Since Verizon no longer operates in the prison phone market, it has no economic interest in the FCC prison payphone proceeding.

Instead, Verizon official joined forces with social justice organizations on moral and ethical grounds, with the company's advocacy of prison payphone rate reform speaking highly of the corporation and its leadership.