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Prohibitively Priced Inmate Calls

Inmate telephone calls in jails and prisons have become prohibitively high in cost in most institutions. Because of this issue, the Federal Communications Commission placed a cap on inmate placed calls.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has ruled that the FCC exceeded its statutory authority by placing a cap on intrastate calls. They may place a cap on interstate calls if they can segregate those calls from the calls within the state.

This certainly comes as a blow to the FCC’s authority, but a greater blow to inmates and their families who are not able to communicate to any extent because of the price of these telephone calls. Since this ruling is based on a statute, Congress could amend the law to allow the FCC to place a cap on intrastate calls. The Constitution allows Congress to regulate interstate commerce but typically not commerce within a state.