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Virginia Pilot: Bill to cut inmate phone bills falters Print

BY BILL SIZEMORE

Created:  February 8, 2014

 

Virginia prisoners won't get a break on their telephone bills anytime soon. The reason: The state wants to keep pocketing the profit it makes off their calls.

The state treasury collects a 35 percent commission on the net revenue from inmate calls, which brings in $2.6 million a year. Del. Patrick Hope's HB414 would have cut the commission to 10 percent and redirected the money to programs easing prisoners' re-entry to society upon release.

Lowering the cost of phone calls would encourage communication between inmates and their families, strengthening important family bonds, Hope, D-Arlington County, told a House subcommittee Friday.

But the panel of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee killed his bill, citing its fiscal impact.

"This is money we cannot afford to lose," said Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William County, the subcommittee chairman. After all, he said, "these are people who have broken the law."


 



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