The County Board has accepted a new jail and House of Correction telephone contract that jacks rates up 68% for collect calls by inmates. The new rates are $5.55 per 15 minute collect call, up from $3.30. The rate will stay at $3.30 for inmates who use debit cards to make their calls. The cards are available in the institutional commissaries for those with money and commissary access (which the newly busted and booked won't have).
The jacked-up rates were contained in the lowest bid the county received for running the service, County Supervisor Lynne DeBruin said.
The additional revenue will help support the fish hatchery at the House, she said.
She also said the higher rates were proposed because the people who receive the collect calls have a high non-payment rate for jail phone bills.
The new contract is just tough luck for anyone without a lot of money, but with an incarcerated friend or loved one. Accept the calls and go broke doing it, or don't accept them and turn your back on that person who needs you now more than ever.
There's a third option: don't pay the county's rip-off phone bill. And here's my bet: Even more people will choose Door 3.