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California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Announces Reduced Cost of Telephone Calls for Incarcerated Population
By California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Published: 03/02/2021

SACRAMENTO — Recognizing the importance of communication between the incarcerated population and family and friends, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is announcing a significant reduction for the cost of telephone calls.

As part of a new six-year contract with Global Tel*Link Corporation (GTL), telephone calls nationwide will cost 2.5 cents per minute, a reduction of 5.1 cents per minute for local calls (same area code) and calls within California, and a reduction of 18.5 cents per minute for telephone calls outside of California. A normal 15-minute telephone call anywhere in the US will cost just 37.5 cents. International telephone calls will cost 7 cents per minute, a reduction of 68 cents per minute.

In addition to the rate reductions, the fee to establish a GTL account has also been eliminated. This charge was previously 3 dollars. Together, these changes will save incarcerated people and their families more than $17 million each year. Additionally, every incarcerated person will be allotted 15 minutes of free telephone calls every two weeks using a new Personal Identification Number (PIN). Incarcerated individuals began setting up their PINS at Valley State Prison starting Feb. 25, and will be activated at all institutions by March 18. GTL and CDCR will continue to offer two free calling days per month through March 2021. Telephone calls for youth in the Division of Juvenile Justice will remain free of charge.

Under the new contract, the use of kiosks and tablets will allow for on-demand communication with family and friends, including secured email. There will be a significant reduction in the cost of messaging from the current rate of 30 cents per message to 5 cents per message. The technology will also provide access to educational, vocational and therapeutic content, as well as rehabilitative programs and activities, such as knowledge-based games and books. These devices also allow all activities to be closely tracked and monitored for safety and security.

Video calls are also available on the tablets. At this time, the free Webex video visiting system remains in place. However, the tablets will be available for those who would like to make video calls in a different location, or to offset limited video visiting station availability in visiting rooms. Video calls will cost 20 cents per minute. The contract also provides for 15 minutes of free video calls every two weeks. These minutes do not have to be used at the same time, and will reset every 14 days. These minutes may not be banked.

The contract was procured by California Department of Technology (CDT) in partnership with CDCR, at no cost to taxpayers. In addition to the reduced rate of telephone calls, the contract will set the department on the path to amplify communications technology across the system, including expanding access to tablets and kiosks for the entire incarcerated population. The tablet program is an expansion of a successful pilot program initiated at five institutions in 2018.

The lower cost of telephone calls will be implemented on March 19, 2021. The expansion of kiosks and tablets will be rolled out in the coming weeks and months, and the department will provide more details as the services come online.

“The communication between our incarcerated population and their loved ones is paramount to their rehabilitation. This reduction in the cost of telephone calls is the result of the hard work of our Administration and staff, and the commitment to make this communication affordable and accessible,” said Kathleen Allison, CDCR Secretary.


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