A Missouri Senate committee approved a bill that would limit the rate inmates pay to make phone calls. The bill from Sen. Steven Roberts, D-St. Louis, proposed a cap on what Missouri prisons and jails can charge.

“All human beings are anchored in life through our relationships with our families, our friends, and our loved ones,” Roberts said. “When any one of us faces our greatest challenges, those connections are their most critical. What could be a greater challenge to an individual than the isolation of serving time in jail or prison?”

Under the proposed legislation, correctional centers would be prevented from charging more than 12 cents per minute for an inmate phone call. Jails would be capped at 14 cents if they have a population of over 1,000 inmates, while the cap for jails with a population under that amount would be capped at 21 cents.

“If we seek to rehabilitate and to see individuals grow through our correctional facilities, we must ensure that they are able to anchor themselves in those relationships just as we do,” Roberts said. “What Senate Bill 1098 does is ensure that inmates are afforded the opportunity to communicate with the outside world by establishing caps on phone rates that they would be charged in Missouri’s correctional centers and jails.”

According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, the current phone services contract charges inmates 5 cents per minute. If this proposal is signed into law, the department would need to change their telephone contract to ensure compliance with the legislation.

His bill received no opposition during the committee hearing.

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