The Price To Call Home: State-Sanctioned Monopolization In The Prison Phone Industry


Phone call rates vary widely between states; one phone company, Global Tel*Link, charges people $2.36 in Massachusetts for a 15 minutes long-distance call but charges people in Georgia $17 for the same call.

The monopolization of the prison phone industry has resulted in exorbitant prison phone call prices with companies promising to pay kickbacks to the state prison system in order to win government contracts. People in prisons are a captive market, and without other vendor options, they are forced to pay these high rates or go without contact with their families. This report details prison phone rates, how they harm society and recommends government regulation as the best solution to lower rates. 

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Key Findings:

  • The prison telephone market is dominated by Global Tel*Link, Securus Technologies, and CenturyLink; Global Tel*Link contains 57 percent of incarcerated people in state prisons in their market.
  • After New York banned kickbacks, Global Tel*Link began charging about $0.05 per minute for local and long-distance calls in the New York prison system.
  • In 2010, federal prison phone rates were low yet competitive enough to generate $34 million in profit.


  • The Federal Communication Commission should set price caps on prison phone rates.
  • State governments should stop accepting kickbacks from prison phone revenue which drives up the rates for phone calls.
Drew Kukorowski
Prison Policy Initiative