Do you have a loved one behind bars in Connecticut prisons?
Do you find that even keeping in touch with your imprisoned loved one is too expensive?
Were you once in a Connecticut prison?
Was calling your family and friends very expensive?
House Representatives Robyn Porter, Josh Elliott and I are working to make calls from prisons free, but we need your help!
Contact me at VeneziaHM@yahoo.com if you would like to tell your story and make change in our state.
When a person is in prison, their connections to loved ones on the outside are some of the most important factors in their happiness and success both behind bars and when they return home. Connecticut ranks 49th in the nation for the affordability of a 15 minute call from an incarcerated person to someone on the outside, usually family members and other loved ones. An incarcerated person will spend $4.87 for 15 minutes on a collect call or $3.65 for a 15 minute prepaid call. These costs are absolutely prohibitive for people working to maintain relationships in the community while incarcerated.
The prison phone industry is a billion dollar business in the United States, profiting from our most vulnerable and poor residents, overwhelmingly people of color. The amount of money going from the wallets of Connecticut’s poorest people into the coffers of billion dollar corporations, is astronomical.
When people are more easily able to make contact with their loved ones from behind bars, everyone benefits. Connections to family while one is incarcerated are one of the most important predictors of recidivism; people who can maintain contact are far less likely to not only have infractions while they are incarcerated, but also to return to incarceration after release. By making phone calls free, we enable our residents to connect to those they love, improving many lives in the process:
- Incarcerated people who maintain hope, retain parenting rights, reduced recidivism, improved reentry outcomes.
- Families on the outside who no longer have to choose between talking to loved ones and paying their bills. The benefit is particularly strong for children of incarcerated parents, who benefit from having regular contact with an incarcerated parent,
- Taxpayers, who reap the increased public safety and thriving communities, and
- Correctional officers, who have to manage fewer infractions.
Contact with loved ones decreases depression and anxiety, it taps into the best support system for incarcerated people, and enables families to prepare for their loved one’s eventual release, since almost all incarcerated people will be released to the community.
Please join us in our fight to make phone calls from prisons free in Connecticut! You can tell your story in writing, you can tell it to me and I will present it, or you can tell your story in testimony in Hartford. It’s time for telephone justice behind bars!
Venezia (Venice) Michalsen, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Justice Studies at Montclair State University in N.J. and author of the new book “Mothering and Desistance in Reentry.” Venice can be reached at VeneziaHM@yahoo.com.