Phone calling rates for Bergen County jail inmates must be lowered

Calling rates for all people held in prisons or jails are much higher than for other people. In New Jersey the rates are absurdly high. For example, an inmate or immigration detainee (detainees are NOT criminals!) held in a state-contracted facility pay about 4.5 cents per minute. In other facilities, such as the Bergen County jail, the rate is about 11 cents per minute, and the county is proposing a new rate that would be 22 cents a minute.

This exorbitant rate is due in large part to the fact that the county builds in a 60.5% commission on each call, and is proposing raising the commission to 65%. This commission goes directly to the facility. In addition there is a mysterious 8% “validation fee”. The end result is a charge that is over five times the cost of a similar call from any state facility and county jail tied to the state contract.

These high fees are incorporated in a proposal received in response to a recent RFP from Bergen County. All final bids are due on July 231, 2015, and comments on them must be received by that date.

New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, First Friends of NJ and NY, and the New York University School of Law, Immigrant Rights Clinic have submitted comments, and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson has written to the County Sheriff, Executive, and Freeholders opposing the bid. CoFiA was represented in the conversation.

For more information and to sign on to the letter of opposition, contact Alix Nguefack at Anguefack@AFSC.org.

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