State Of Phone Justice 2022: The Problem, The Progress, and What’s Next


552 county jails charge higher in-state rates than the FCC allows for out-of-state calls.

As a result of actions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and efforts at the state and local level, prison and jail phone call fees have steadily reduced over the last ten years.  Using its database of phone call rates in all 50 state prison systems and thousands of local jails, this report from the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) provides an update on the decrease in rates since their last report. The authors provide an overview of current prison and jail phone call fees, detail how companies are rapidly evolving to undermine progress, and provide guidance to federal and state regulators and legislators.

You can read the full text here

Key Findings:

  • The cost of a 15-minute call from a local jail ranges from $1.05 to $3.15 across the country, averaging about $3.
  • In Illinois, jail phone calls are ten times higher than the same call from the state’s prison.
  • Collect calls essentially do not exist anymore, and where they do, they cost no more than pre-paid calls.
  • A handful of states have restricted prisons and jails from accepting site commission revenue (kickbacks).
  • Telecom companies have expanded into selling products like video calling, tablets, electronic messaging, release cards, and money transfer platforms at arbitrarily high costs. 
  • Bundle contracts between telecom companies and prisons and jails do not allow facilities to retain services from other companies.


  • Congress should pass the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communication Act, which would authorize the FCC to set “just and reasonable rates” for all calls made from correctional facilities, whether in-state or out-of-state, from jails or prisons, by phone or by video.
  • The FCC should regulate the costs of video calls from prisons and jails.
  • State and local governments should enact legislation to provide agency-sponsored calls for people in prisons and jails. 
Peter Wagner and Wanda Bertram
Prison Policy Initiative