If you feel the need, please send a letter on the subject with your concerns and questions to the following address and find the sample letter below.:
MDOC Public Information Office P.O. Box 30003 Lansing, MI 48909 517-373-6391
Website to contact any employee of MDOC: http://www.mdoc.state.mi.us/edoc/Governor Snyder's email is: Rick.Snyder@michigan.govIt is most important that you write to your own county's legislature!I believe this is the updated list to find your Senators and Representatives: http://www.michiganvotes.org/Find.aspxAlso, please make sure to include your contact information such as name, address, phone and email. If this information is not on your letter, they do not need to reply.This letter comes from Prison Talk, which has an on-line forum and some great information!
Recently the Michigan Department of Corrections signed a new phone contract with PCS Daily Dial and failed to inform prisoners and their family of the change and new price rates until which time the change occurred. The price rates were not known until the moment the phone carrier switched and families were then forced to set up an account with PCS Daily Dial. No one was notified in advance of when the switch would occur, it simply happened. After the switch-over, it was discovered by prisoners and their family and friends that the rates were now almost doubled.
The old rates through Embarq were billed at .12 cents a minute or 1.80 per 15 minute call. Through CBS(Correctional Billing Services)it was 1.80 per 15 minutes plus a .12cent tax making each 15 minute call 1.92. If a family member chose to send money directly to the prisoner to be placed in their account, a 15 minute call would be 1.80.
The change occurred this past week and according to the contract MDOC has signed with PCS, MDOC is paying PCS approximately .04cents a minute.
MDOC pays PCS Daily Dial 60cents for a 15 minute call, the prisoner/family is now charged 3.00 for a 15 minute call.
This 3.00 rate was in effect for a matter of days, until 6/7/11 at which time an additional .20cents was unknowingly added to the 3.00 â€œfor tax.â€ This â€œtaxâ€ was never mentioned at the time anyone set up their accounts with PCS Daily Dial nor was anyone ever notified of the additional tax amount of .20 cents on 6/7/11. It was mysteriously and automatically deducted from all accounts.
On 6/8/11 a prisoner's family member was informed by PCS that there will now be a 25% tax placed on the 3.00(15 minute call)thus each 15 minute call will go up again to 3.50.
This will now make each call .30cents more than it was the day prior and 1.70 more than a 15 minute call was one week ago. No one from the MDOC or PCS can explain why any increases have occurred, where the additional money is being spent and why the tax increase has also now occurred, repeatedly.
The bottom line is: For a 15 minute call, MDOC will pay PCS Daily Dial 0.60 cents. The prisoner and their families will be paying 3.50 for the same 15 minute call. The 2.90 profit margin is far beyond what the appropriation bill allows for in the current market value. I personally would consider this to be price gouging. If any other entity out there -- gas station, grocery store, internet service, etc. doubled their rates clearly to make a large profit, there would be an uproar and an investigation. Yet we have no one else to buy this service from -- the monopoly on prisoner phone calls in Michigan belongs to one company, and we have no choice but to pay.
As friends and families of an incarcerated loved one, we know how crucial it is to the prisoner's family, their children and the rehabilitation of the prisoner themselves to have frequent contact with one another. This is obviously price gouging at its worst, a practice of a coercive monopoly in which rates are priced far above the market rate that would otherwise prevail in a competitive environment.
According to the 2010 Senate Bill 1153/Appropriations: 2010-2011 Department of Corrections Budget Sec. 219. Any contract for prisoner telephone services entered into after the effective date of this act shall include a condition that fee schedules for prisoner telephone calls, including rates and any surcharges other than those necessary to meet special equipment costs, be the same as fee schedules for calls placed from outside of correctional facilities.
Upon recent investigation, it has now been discovered that the MDOC has elected to add to our phone rates, the cost of special equipment used in seeking illegal cell phones within the facilities The cost of this outrageous high tech equipment is being passed on to the prisoners and families who rely on communication and moral support via telephone. It is deplorable that a small portion of the families who are barely able to afford already infrequent phone contact, are picking up the tab for an entire department to fund security measures that should be included in annual budgets and/or taxes and should already be tracked through routine searches for contraband by paid, trained facility staff.
Though we believe in the importance of maintaining security measures within the facility, and support facility staff, this recent development appears to be an act of desperation and expolitation by the MDOC. According to the contract between MDOC and PCS Daily Dial, it has also been written that prisoners will soon be able to utilize telephonic measures to request and confirm call outs, follow up on release dates, etc. The cost of this new interfacility procedure should be the responsibility of the Department when establishing the MDOC budget, this cost is not the responsibility of the minority of prisoners and families that can afford an occasional telephone call. Could it be that this is also being passed on to the families as well?
As an individual who offers support to an individual incarcerated in The MDOC, and as a citizen of the State of Michigan, I along with many others would like to elevate this matter for further investigation into the MDOC and PCS Daily Dial to prove that this rate hike is within the current constraints of the aforementioned Appropriation Bill 1153 and does not violate the rights of the minority who pay to occasionally communicate with their children, parents, wives and other loved ones.
There is a large group of us -- now numbering in the hundreds -- who are outraged. We are putting together petitions, writing letters, making calls and contacting those who head up MDOC. We are also emailing this message to all of our state Senators, Representatives and Governor Snyder. It is our full intention to not only get this ridiculous price gouging eliminated, but also to expose the Michigan Department of Corrections for their unethical and opaque policies that are directly affecting the well-being and financial health of so many of our state's struggling citizens. Personally, at this point in time, I am furious -- and deeply ashamed to be a Michigander. Instead of working with the families and friends of the inmates to provide clear communication and reasonable increases in rates, it appears as if the MDOC has decided to make a profit off of us. How horribly sad. It is our hope that someone will step up to the plate and rectify this travesty.
(sign your name)
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter"