There are ongoing FCC proceedings that aim to regulate the Inmate Calling Services (ICS) rates and fees. Changes proposed will impact the operations of prisons and jails in terms of budget and in this COVID world, much-needed inmate communication options when face-to-face visits are limited.
This session’s resource speakers are from the NCIC Inmates Communications. Bill Pope is the President and co-owner of NCIC who’s been deeply involved with the FCC and ICS regulating efforts since 2013. Meanwhile, Craig Storer is the Director of Marketing for NCIC working on understanding inmate communications environments and its operations-related details.
Specifics tackled on this webinar include:
- A timeline of the events related to regulation efforts to ICS: The Wright Petition, what the FCC provided to address this so far, and the most recent developments.
- Factors that initiated the regulatory attention due to the market’s inability to self-regulate, tendency to circumvent existing regulations, pressure from concerned sectors, and the current dependency on ICS due to COVID-19 protocols.
- FCC’s move to lower calling and video visitation rates based on data produced by ICS providers.
- A glimpse into the existing FCC order that aims to implement caps for calling rates, ancillary fees, and commissions or revenue share for the jail/prison facilities.
- The issue with single payment calls, that while providing convenience in terms of billing…
- Has variable rates which may turn out as much more expensive.
- May reduce overall calling activity between inmates and the family due to the cost.
- Isn’t included in the revenue share calculations for the facility.
- Why knee jerk regulation such as providing free calls isn’t sustainable.
- Getting ahead of regulatory efforts and looking at…
- The potential negative impacts of FCC proceedings in commission payments which goes to the facility budget.
- The existing inmate and video visitation agreements so it follows the mandated rate caps.
- Filing comments with the FCC and state regulatory agencies.
- Conducting due diligence and have your agency’s attorney review proposed changes.
- What your facility must do once regulatory efforts go into effect.
- Coordinating with your providers to ensure that their plans are in your best interest and are in compliance with the regulatory mandate.
- Regular revenue information statements checks, test calls, and being wary of complaints to see if your provider is actually compliant with the regulations.
- Seek RFP templates that eliminate the various abuses in the industry while also maximizing revenue-share back to your agency.
Questions from the audience were about:
- What test calls are and its purpose.
- Data charges instead of per minute call charges.
- Available payment options and funding mechanisms for inmates’ families.
- The potential impact of the proposed changes to agencies’ budgets.
- The per-minute rate difference between jails and prisons.
- What detention and correction facility staff can do concerning the FCC proceedings.
Resources and Handouts
- Inmate Communications Industry – Regulatory Proceedings
- FCC Filing Comments Link: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express
- “Very informational webinar. I learned that some of the funds charged for cell phones or other media services are placed back into the inmate well-being fund fr services such as re-entry programs etc. great idea.” — Marie
- “Great presentation on, The Current FCC Proceedings and How They Will Affect Your Inmate Communications.” — Tangela
- “This entire subject was new to me. Very informational.” — Phyllis