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Virginia Pilot: Va. panel OKs bill to cut cost of prisoners' phone calls Print


Created:  January 24, 2014


State prisoners and their families could catch a break if legislation approved today by a House of Delegates subcommittee keeps advancing.

Del. Patrick Hope’s bill (HB414) would limit the commission collected by the state on inmate phone calls to 10 percent. Under the current contract between the state Department of Corrections and its telephone provider, the state gets 35 percent.

“We believe that this is a tax on families,” Hope, D-Arlington County, told the subcommittee. He said the high phone bills discourage communication between inmates and their families, which is a factor in rehabilitation.

Hope’s legislation would dedicate the revenue from the telephone commissions to a prisoner re-entry fund to help facilitate housing, employment and social services for inmates upon release.

The panel approved the measure unanimously, advancing it to the full Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. It would also need approval by the budget-writing Appropriations Committee because of its cost to the state, estimated at $2.6 million a year.