Free Phone Calls for California Prisoners 

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By Bev Abbad

As of January 1,  2023, phone calls from California prisoners are free. The Keep Families Connected Act, Senate Bill 1008, was signed into law by Governor Newsom on Sept. 29.

The bill seeks to prohibit city, county, or state agencies from profiting from communication services that serve the incarcerated. Senator Josh Becker (D-Peninsula), author of the bill, says, “Predatory phone companies make an estimated $1.4 billion in the prison telecom industry.”

Worth Rises, a nonprofit that works to dismantle the prison industrial complex, estimates that a third of families of prisoners go into debt trying to maintain contact with incarcerated loved ones.

The highest number of prisoners serving life sentences are in California. According to the Dept. of Corrections Office of Research, as of Aug. 2022 there are 25,381 lifer prisoners in the state.

Becker says that this bill was successful due to the participation of the impacted families, and community support.

(Source: San Quentin News, Dec. 2022, Steve Brooks, “Newsom signs bill expanding free phone calls”)

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