PLS’ Challenge to Excessive Phone Rates Makes Headlines

July 17th, 2012

Earlier this month, the Boston Globe and MetroWest Daily News featured Prisoners’ Legal Services efforts to lower the telephone rates charged to prisoners and improve poor connection quality. The Boston Globe’s article, Advocates, Families Fight Jail Phone Fees describes the efforts, led by PLS:

A team of inmate advocates, public defenders, prisoners and their friends and families have joined in a petition to the state , asking a regulatory agency to reduce what they called astronomical rates for phone calls from prisons – calls that in some cases could climb to $10 for just a few minutes.

In their story, The High Cost to Stay Connected from Prison, The MetroWest Daily News quotes PLS attorney, Bonnie Tenneriello as saying, “We’ve heard from many, many prisoners in the department of correction that this is a real hardship.” The article states:

While the charges aren’t quite as high at state-run facilities as they are at county ones, they hit hardest on women prisoners at MCI-Framingham, many of whom rely on such calls to keep in touch with their children, said Bonita Tenneriello, a lawyer at Prisoners Legal Services in Boston.
This Thursday at a public hearing before the state Department of Telecommunications and Cable, Tenneriello and many other inmate advocates and family members will make the case to lower prison phone rates and investigate poor call quality.
“We’re expecting a large turnout — we’ve gotten many, many letters from families,” Tenneriello said. “I think people want to have their voices heard.”

For more information on this issue, visit PLS’ Phone Rates page and SmartonCrime.org.

Making room for inmates

May 31st, 2012

Boston Globe
By Emily Sweeney
May 17, 2012

Every prison and jail in Southeastern Massachusetts is operating over its capacity, and overcrowding is an issue facing every correctional institution in the state. In Bridgewater, the Old Colony Correctional Center was built to house 480 medium-security inmates but currently houses 809. At the Bristol County Jail and House of Correction in Dartmouth, every cell is double-bunked, and beds have taken over the gymnasium there, too, as the occupancy rate has skyrocketed to 384 percent.

“It’s getting steadily worse,” said Leslie Walker, executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services, a Boston-based advocacy group. “I don’t recall the numbers ever being this high.”

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Backlog follows parole overhaul

March 31st, 2012

Boston Globe
By Michael Rezendes
March 26, 2012

“The total effect is more people in prison overall, and fewer people released under supervision,’’ said James R. Pingeon of Prisoners’ Legal Services, a group that provides representation to inmates. “It’s doubly bad.’’

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Smart on crime

January 31st, 2012

Commonwealth Magazine
By Pippin Ross
January 11, 2012

The centerpiece of the Massachusetts Correction Legal Services fundraiser is a panel discussion called “Stem­ming the Tide: What Massachusetts Can Learn From Other States.” The panelists include state Rep. Charles Murphy of Burlington, Garin, former attorney general Scott Harsh­barger, and, by video, retired federal judge Nancy Gertner. Gertner is critical of mandatory sentences, which she says don’t promote fairness or contribute to public safety. “The more money we put into building walls the less we have to focus on reentry into society and for crime prevention,” she says.

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