Prison Phone Justice Organizing Effort: Lowering the Cost of and Ending Kickbacks on Prison Phone Calls

Prison Phone Justice, is a national organizing effort to lower the cost of and end kickbacks on prison phone calls, through the implementation of a federal cap, the opening of an FCC docket, and a local-to-local strategy to win institutional reforms.  

At a time when prisoners are increasingly housed in facilities hundreds of miles away from their home communities, telephones become for many the only way to stay in touch; for most, this is an offer that cannot be refused. Typically, states receive kickback commissions from the phone companies who receive the contract, creating a situation in which there is no incentive to seek competitive bids. Unsurprisingly rates for such calls are well above market rates, as much as $6 per minute or more.  The skewed public debate on criminal justice has led to regressive and overly punitive policy, more prisons in struggling rural communities, and higher rates of incarceration- with an increase in the disproportionate confinement of low income people and people of color.

Working Narratives, the MAG-Net Anchor in Appalachia will be leading this campaign effort, with technical support from the Center for Media Justice. Working Narratives uses performance, web, video, and radio to open a public space for incarcerated people, corrections officials, the formerly incarcerated, grassroots activists, and ordinary citizens to dialogue and organize around United State’s criminal justice system.  Working together with MAG-Net members the campaign increases the impact of strategic communications and narrative organizing in the criminal justice and media justice sectors, as well as strengthen the collaboration between these two sectors for greater impact.  The campaign will be generating a curriculum, op-eds press materials and an action organizing toolkit for the criminal justice and media justice sectors in Narrative Organizing, Media Production, and Strategic Communications.

Read a New Comprehensive Study on Telephone Prison Rates, written by our campaign partner Prison Legal News.

Campaign for Consumer Protections on Cell Phones and Wireless Devices

The Campaign aims to ensure consumer protections on cell phones and wireless devices through state and local mapping, policy reforms, a dedicated local-to-local strategy to defeat the proposed AT&T merger, and applied mechanisms at the state and local level to issue complaints for wireless consumers. 

In December 2010 the FCC passed rules that provide only the most minimal consumer protections to wireless users. These new rules created a segregated Internet where wireless users are left with blocked and tiered service. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 18% of blacks and 16% of English-speaking Latinos access the Internet only from their cell phones, compared with 10% of whites. Latinos and African Americans are more likely to access the web via their cell phones, and they are often limited in the content they can access and the functionality that is available for their everyday needs like access to jobs, education, housing and healthcare.  The Consumer Protections on Cellphone and Wireless Devices Campaign will coordinate joint MAG-Net strategic actions, collect, popularize and share stories and complaints from community members who are most affected by wireless policy inequities.  People’s Production House and Media Literacy Project, two of campaign’s lead members will nationally distribute their cellphone literacy toolkit/curriculum to the network and other justice sectors to use in their organizing and education activities for wireless rights.

The Media Literacy Project (MLP) in Albuquerque, New Mexico and People’s Production House (PPH) in New York City, two MAG-Net anchor organizations are the campaign leads, with technical support provided by Center for Media Justice.

Through this campaign, MAG-Net continues to build on our organizing work around these key mobile/phone protections policy issues specially around: 1) Opposing the AT&T/ T-Mobile Merger, 2) Advocating for Net Neutrality Protections (both on Wired and Wireless devices), 3) Fighting for Broadband Access, Rights, Power and Adoption, and 4) Universal Service Fund Reforms.

Protecting and Expanding Community Media

MAG-Net’s other policy priorities are:

Protecting and showcasing community-scale broadband networks, through protecting the development of municipal systems and other alternatives that provide broadband to residents in rural communities and other areas where there is a limited number of ISPs.




Expand the successful use and ownership of community radio and community media,through partnerships with Prometheus Radio Project and Public Access TV organizations.