I'm not sure what's worse, the fact that families are financially raped to talk to inmates or that our prisons are run by private companies. A new report found that when a family member is incarcerated, it not only hurts their loved ones but also can significantly impact the community. But this isn't just about crime and punishment, it's also about poverty!
Incarceration has an outsized effect on economic inequality for poor families - with one-third of people in jail or prison coming from households earning less than $23,000 per year. That means they're more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, making them less able to provide for themselves and their families. And given how many Americans don't even make enough money to cover basic necessities like housing and food, this creates a vicious cycle where those who are incarcerated.
Most people don't think about how much it costs to call an inmate at a prison. It can be $1 per minute or more! And this is actually one of the lower rates - many prisons charge $3-$5 per phone call, and some even charge upwards of $10 for a single 15-minute phone call. This cost creates financial barriers to maintaining relationships with inmates and also prevents family members from speaking with their loved ones in person. What's worse, the exorbitant rates keep families from being able to speak with inmates when they need them most: during emergencies like natural disasters or medical crises. The cost of these calls adds up quickly and becomes unaffordable for so many families who love someone incarcerated in the system, but doesn't have the financial means creates additional hardships.