Capping prison phone rates helps keep families connected

Letters to the Editor - Opinion - The Washington Post
June 19, 2017
Tiffany McFadden

Regarding the June 17 editorial “The line goes dead for inmates”:

Courts won’t allow the capping of phone rates in prisons even though it would be the humane way to treat the incarcerated. The courts should then help inmates’ families and communities.

I spent 17 years of my life as a ward of New York state’s foster care system while my mother, struggling with heroin addiction, was incarcerated. There were times in my life when I went as long as two years without hearing her voice. I literally couldn’t afford to. Neither can so many families with incarcerated loved ones.

Roadblocks to keeping these families connected don’t stop with the telephone. New York state may have limited phone rates, but it then rescinded the free bus service families used to visit loved ones in prison. By the time food, lost wages and hotel and bus fare are taken into account, it can cost hundreds of dollars for a child to spend a day with his or her parent in prison.

Families must be part of the rehabilitation process. When they’re separated, the incarcerated lose their strongest support network and family members are punished, too.

Tiffany McFadden, New York
he writer is a volunteer with Alliance of Families for Justice.