Los Angeles County supervisors met Wednesday to discuss extending the county’s jail phone services’ current telecommunication lease.
Their decision was in favor of not extending their current contract after it expires in 2010 and to request a proposal for a new contract.
Presently, the jail phone services is provided by AT&T. Callers are charged $3.54 for the first minute for collect calls and 10 cents per minute after that. Callers using prepaid jail phone cards are charged $3.19 the first minute and then nine cents per minute after that.
In 2004, 94 percent of inmate calls were collect and averaged 16 to 17 minutes in length. According to county statistics, these inmate calls cost their family, friends, and relatives an average of $5.20.
In April, the Board of Supervisors took into consideration how the costs of the calls impacted the inmates’ families and friends and voted to approve AT&T’s request to transfer its contract with the jail through 2010 to Global Tel-Link Corp. However, the decision was postponed on a request to extend the contract through 2010.
According to county officials, AT&T recently chose to discontinue their services provided to the jail so that they could direct more attention to their wireless communications.
Sheriff Lee Baca dismisses the notion that calls cost the inmates’ families too much; he claims that the money generated by jail phone service is used to pay for programs that help the inmates.