(Black PR Wire) Washington, D.C. — Recently, more than 70 grassroots advocates, civil rights, consumer rights and faith-based organizations issued a joint-letter to congressional leaders urging an immediate House vote on H.R. 2489, the Martha Wright Prison Phone Justice Act, and S. 1541, the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act, which would ensure incarcerated people can communicate with their loved ones without unjust call rates.
Both H.R. 2489 and S.1541 would restore the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ability to protect communications between incarcerated people and their loved ones, who often face high phone costs and unjust and predatory commercial practices. The House passed the text of H.R. 2489 last Congress as part of the Heroes Act in 2020, and the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on it last year. The coalition’s letter makes clear that legislation must pass Congress this year and that either bill will get the job done.
High communications costs have serious consequences for those impacted by the carceral system. Children cannot speak with incarcerated parents without sacrificing their financial security or giving up food or medication. Counsel cannot communicate with their clients who are in jail, jeopardizing their civil and due process rights. The passage of these bills would ensure protection against unjust rates by making it harder for companies to take advantage of incarcerated people and their families.
The letter sent to congressional leaders and full list of signatories can be shared upon request.
The signatories of the letter include Color Of Change, Common Cause, Media Justice, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, Black Women's Roundtable, American Association of People with Disabilities, Communications Workers of America, The Episcopal Church, Prison Policy Initiative, and dozens of other national and local organizations.