Here’s the letter we’ll send to New York Governor Kathy Hochul & the New York Legislature:
Keep Families Connected: Demand Free Communication in NY!
For years prison telecom corporations have made enormous profits off of incarcerated people and their loved ones, charging up to $15 for a 15-minute phone call, raking in a whopping $1.4 billion a year.
In New York State there are currently two active bills in both the State Assembly and Senate that, if passed, would provide incarcerated people with 90 minutes of free phone communication per day.
Thankfully due to years of powerful activism, there is political will for both of these bills to be passed. However, in order for this legislation to be put into practice funding must be allocated within New York State’s budget.
In order for phone calls to be free for incarcerated people in New York State, Governor Kathy Hochul must allocate funds in the state budget for The Connecting Families Act.
Right now, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the state’s prison system, charges 60 cents per 15-minute phone call.
Communication — staying in touch with our loved ones — has always been a lifeline for each of us. During the pandemic, we have come to more fully understand how important communication and relationships are for mental and emotional health and how debilitating isolation can be.
Yet for many families with incarcerated loved ones, the high cost of phone calls has been a major barrier to staying in touch, especially as in-person visits to prisons and jails were abruptly suspended at the beginning of the pandemic. This made it nearly impossible for many families to stay connected and was particularly challenging for Black and Idengenious communities, who continued to bear the brunt of both the pandemic and mass incarceration.
Amid the dual crises of a public health pandemic and subsequent economic devastation, it is even more critical, now more than ever, that we make communication free for incarcerated people across New York State.
That’s why we’re making our demands clear: Every family deserves to stay connected. It’s crucial that we call on New York Governor Kathy Hochul to secure funding for The Connecting Families Act, and make communication free for incarcerated people and their loved ones.
We’re fighting for legislation that would end the extraction of wealth from Black and Brown families, and we need your help to both make sure this critical legislation is signed into law and backed by funding from the New York state budget. Sign the petition to hold NY Governor Kathy Hochul accountable, and to demand free communication for all incarcerated New Yorkers.
Here is the Petition:
Dear Governor Hochul & New York Legislature,
Communication is a human right, not a commodity. New York should not be restricting access to basic communication or allowing corporations to exploit families’ desperate need to stay connected. As elected officials, you have the power to deliver relief for your constituents and their loved ones. That's why we're calling on you to pass and support funding for the Connecting Families Act (S3512A/A3096A) and make phone calls free for all incarcerated New Yorkers.
Families should not have to suffer and struggle to stay connected, especially during a pandemic. We're calling on you to pass critical legislation to end the looting of resources from the most vulnerable New Yorkers. A coalition that includes Color Of Change, Worth Rises, The Osborne Association, Fines & Fees Justice Center, and other advocates for prison phone justice — support the legislation (S3512A/A3096A) that grants New Yorkers the ability to communicate with their incarcerated loved ones at no cost and codifies increased access to phones and email kiosks across all state prisons and county jails. Doing so would rightly alleviate further economic distress on families across New York.
Families should not have to suffer and struggle to stay connected, especially during a pandemic. We're calling on you to pass critical legislation to end the looting of resources from the most vulnerable New Yorkers.
Learn more: https://nyconnect.org/