Interprofessional Center

for Counseling & Legal Services

Retrospective Case Study Reveals the Impact of Phone Calls on Prisoners and Their Families


Prison Phone Justice

“If you nurture a plant, it grows; if you comfort a loved one incarcerated, it encourages his awareness for being loved.”  ‌A study conducted by the University of St. Thomas Community Justice Project Legal Clinic in 2013 found a simple phone call to a loved one from prison is like “a fistful of gold,” a lifeline to prisoners.  Through this study, twenty-two men of the Power of People Leadership Institute were able to reflect back to their time while incarcerated and express their need for telephone calls as a “light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.”  Since being released from prison, these men have served as leaders in the community. 

According to the men in the study, some prisoners receive only a couple phone calls a month for an average length of 11-15 minutes per call.  Currently in Minnesota, the cost of that fifteen minute collect phone call is inflated based on commissions received by prisons when they enter into service contracts with phone service providers.  The high rates for prison phone calls in Minnesota: 1) create difficult budgetary decisions impacting prisoners’ relationships with family and 2) destroy connections to the outside world contributing to increased recidivism rates and less safe communities. 

To read the study click here: Prison Phone Justice Listening Session 2014.

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