Appeals court rules FCC can’t decide rate caps for same-state inmate phone calls

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is praising a U.S. Court of Appeals decision regarding inmate phone call rates and the resulting costs imposed upon state corrections departments and county jails.

The ruling threw out the federal intrastate rate regulation for the calls, and said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not have legal authority to mandate rates for calls that occur in just one state. The FCC was faulted for “misreading” the court’s precedent of “ignoring the terms.”

The way the rate caps were decided were “arbitrary,” according to the decision. The court said the costs didn’t include those incurred by the jails and prisons who allow the inmates to use the phones.

The court criticized the federal agency’s method, saying it “defies reasoned decision making,” “makes no sense,” and is “hard to fathom.”

Attorneys general for Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma and Wisconsin successfully challenged the FCC’s rule and argued it attempted to supersede the individual states’ authority.

Read the court’s full opinion, here.

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