Massachusetts along with four other states in the U.S. now allow incarcerated individuals to make phone calls from prison for free. The new law takes effect on Dec. 1, 2023.

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I remember in the '90s getting collect calls from a Massachusetts state prison when I was working at my high school radio station. Radio listening was real popular in the prison system at one time.

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey

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“Ensuring that individuals in state and county prisons can keep in contact with their loved ones is key to enhancing rehabilitation, reducing recidivism, and improving community safety,” Healey said in a written statement. “I’m proud to sign this important legislation and grateful to the Legislature and advocates for their partnership." -Maura Healey

How Much Does A Phone Call Cost From Prison Currently?

There are 12,350 incarcerated persons in Massachusetts jail or prison system at this time and communication is paramount.

The Department of Correction currently charges 12 cents per minute, and most county sheriffs charge 14 cents per minute — forcing cash-strapped prisoners, or their families, to spend $2.40 and $2.80 for a 20-minute call in addition to extra fees for putting money into an account.

Jesse Stewart, Townsquare Media
Jesse Stewart, Townsquare Media

Massachusetts joins Connecticut, California, Colorado, Minnesota is states that now offer free phone calls from prison.

In the lead-up to the statewide policy change, some sheriffs have taken smaller steps. In 2021, 14 Massachusetts sheriffs agreed to provide a minimum of 10 free minutes of phone calls per week to each prisoner.

Incarcerated people are allowed 300 minutes of telephone calls a month.

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