Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cook County Jail lowers phone costs

Cook County Jail has done what inmates in the McHenry County Jail and all over the State of Illinois would like - lower phone call costs.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the first, free call length will triple to 15 minutes.

Inmates pay a connection fee and then a per-minute rate to make phone calls. At the McHenry County Jail, phone calls to Woodstock are a flat-rate of $2.50 for 20 minutes.

At Cook County Jail, an inmate will pay $4.00 for a 15-minute call (compared to the current rate that could be as high as $9.99). A 30-minute call could cost $7.00

When an inmate uses a prepaid calling card, the new connection fee will be $1.00. That's $2.00 lower than the current connection charge.

It is way past time for the McHenry County Jail to stop gouging inmates on phone calls. When inmates buy a calling card in the Jail commissary, 50% of the cost is rebated to the Jail, where it goes into the Inmate Profit Account. Thus, $20 dropped on a phone card means $10 falls in the "Profit Account."

Last time I checked, there was a $75,000 balance in that non-interest bearing checking account of the Inmate Profit Fund. And that was after the purchase of three laptops - the good ones - the Panasonic Toughbooks like are used in field equipment (tanks, jeeps) in the Iraq War. I think $15,000 was blown on those three laptops.

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