The Cost of a Prison Phone Call in Wisconsin Depends on the Location
A recent analysis by the Prison Policy Initiative revealed disparities in the amount of money it costs for incarcerated persons to make phone calls in Wisconsin, depending on where in the state they’re located. For example, for someone making a call from a jail in Jefferson, Vernon or Vilas Counties, a 15 minute call will cost $1.80. However, a 15 minute call made from a jail in Green County will cost $14.77. Counties and phone service providers both earn revenue from said calls, and in places like Barron County the county collects 82% of the revenue.
For the family members of incarcerated persons, phone calls that cost around $15 or more can act as a major financial burden. According to a 2016 report by the Prison Policy Initiative, the median annual income for incarcerated persons was $15,109 in 2015 dollars. Other experts have expressed concern that an incarcerated person’s lack of connection to family members and loved ones — due in part to a financial inability to pay phone call costs — could increase recidivism.
Some areas have begun to decrease if not outright eliminate phone call costs. Cities in California like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco and New York City have made attempts to make said calls free. This year, Connecticut became the first state to make calls to and from prisons free.
An Illinois Sheriff's Office is Using Video Tablets as a Mental Health Response Tool
Throughout the pandemic, the use of video-conferencing tools like “Zoom” have become commonplace in the workforce as a means to continue hosting all-staff meetings and facilitate cooperation on team projects. At the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, however, the tool is taking on a new purpose — assisting officers responding to mental health calls.
Unlike other precincts across the Midwest that are considering the development of mental health response teams — consisting of social workers and psychological professionals that travel with or in place of law enforcement on calls — Cook County is equipping its officers with tablets so that distressed persons can communicate with mental health professionals located miles away. Currently, the department has secured 70 tablets for officer use.
The Iowa Department of Corrections is Temporarily Suspending A Prison Mail Screening Policy
A prison mailing protocol which mandated letters addressed to incarcerated persons first be photocopied has been put on pause in Iowa. The policy was first implemented after concerns that certain letters were being previously soaked in a synthetic marijuana called K2 or Spice so that offenders could smoke the letters once they arrived at prison facilities.
However, by instituting a policy that required IDOC personnel to open and photocopy letters beforehand — even those suspected of being legal correspondence — there was a concern it violated constitutional protections over privacy and attorney-client privileges.
Indiana Lawmakers and the CSG Justice Center are Exploring Changes to the State's Juvenile Justice System
Indiana state lawmakers are evaluating potential reforms to the state’s juvenile justice system. Aided by research conducted and presented by the CSG Justice Center, the Indiana Juvenile Justice Reform Taskforce is hoping to gain a better understanding of why Hoosier youth are ending up in juvenile detention and exploring policy changes.
To date, a number of working groups have formed to explore issues related to out-of-home placements, student referrals and their genesis, the amount of services received by child services agencies, and streamlining data collection procedures. CSG research shows juvenile populations in Indiana have decreased by more than 60% from 2007 to 2017.
The goal for the commission will be to turn many of the findings into legislation for the 2022 session.
For more information, check out the linked article by the Indiana Lawyer.