FCC Votes To End Predatory Pricing Of Inmate Telephone Calls

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

PrisonCellWe previously featured an article on how the practice of private organizations charging predatory tolls on inmate telephone calls. Now, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), a regulatory agency of the U.S. Government, voted to enact guidelines limiting these tolls to be more in-line with reasonable costs that the agency believes will balance inmate needs with legitimate rates of return required by carriers to remain viable in their business venture.

The ruling by the FCC should come not only as welcome news to inmates, their friends and families, but it will also provide a means of comfort for most inmates and might to a limited degree also lead to lower problems affecting staff caused by inmate misbehavior.

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Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Helping to Make Money for the Private Prison Industry

PrisonCellSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

In the Public Interest (ITPI), which describes itself as “a comprehensive resource center on privatization and responsible contracting,” released a report this month titled CRIMINAL: How Lockup Quotas and “Low-Crime Taxes” Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations. The report provides information about “the prevalence of prison occupancy guarantee provisions in prison privatization contracts.” ITPI said that it had “identified 77 county and state-level private facilities nationwide and collected and analyzed 62 contracts from these facilities.” Of the contracts that ITPI reviewed, 65% contained occupancy requirements that ranged between 80% and 100%–with 90% being the most frequent quota guarantee.

ITPI found that the states of Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Virginia were locked into contracts with the highest occupancy guarantee requirements. All four states had quotas requiring an occupancy rate between 95% and 100%.

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America’s Transcendent Issue

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

ImageWhen you contemplate all of the problems that beset us in this election year it is hard not to feel daunted by the task of finding solutions. Many millions of American’s are without jobs, with the prospect of future employment seeming illusory. The top 1% of the American population controls vast amounts of the country’s wealth.  http://www.businessinsider.com/15-charts-about-wealth-and-inequality-in-america-2010-4?op=1  Wages of average Americans have stagnated for the past 40 years to such an extent that our middle class is shrinking rapidly. The housing boom of years past has become a bust of monumental proportions and foreclosures are destroying formerly viable neighborhoods. Our once barely adequate “safety net” has been shredded and there are attempts to destroy both Social Security and Medicare as we know it. Despite a weak attempt at Medical reform millions of Americans find health care unaffordable, with many dying and others forced into bankruptcy to stay alive. Due to lack of money America’s once magnificent infrastructure is rotting and solutions are not on the horizon.

The collapse and bailout of our banking industry has cost us trillions and appears to have been brought about by fraudulent practices on the part of the industry, yet no one has been indicted. In fact the remuneration of top executives in this duplicitous industry has actually increased. Efforts to impose stiff controls ensuring that these artificial crises don’t happen again and that these huge financial entities do business ethically, have failed to pass the Congress. We see that the fallout from the American banking crisis has undercut the world’s economy and that economic crises in other industrialized nations appear regularly. Please notice I’m only referring to the economic problems we face and only producing a partial list of those economic problems.

We have seemingly come to the conclusion of an unnecessary war in Iraq, where trillions were spent and perhaps a million were killed, yet the withdrawal of troops is to bases that surround Iraq. We are leaving about 40,000 Americans in country, many as mercenaries (contractors is a euphemism) as we support the largest diplomatic infrastructure in any foreign nation. The war in Afghanistan still rages in a land that has never been significantly shaped by any outside empire, this despite the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the virtual destruction of Al Qaeda.  Hundreds of billions are being spent and the lives of our troops are put in danger, in an exercise with little hope of success. Billions are going towards building Afghanistan’s infrastructure as ours is falling apart. Yet these instances fail to raise the broad spectrum of the military/foreign policy problems continuing to plague us. These issues include a military budget that far greater than that of all other nations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures 

However, these three paragraphs still do not encompass the broad range of problems we Americans face. There is more to be touched on before we come to the conclusion that I’ve reached, that there is one problem that not only transcends all of these, but its need for immediate solution supersedes any of the others in importance. Continue reading