Those who are serving time in local prisons and jails in Michigan are paying among the highest rates in the nation for phone calls.

Prison policy advocates describe a system where phone vendors charge high fees to local jails for telecommunication services. So while you likely think nothing of placing a phone call, charges to an incarcerated person or their family can be high.

In Michigan, the Prison Policy Institute found as of 2022, the average rate of a 15 minute call was $3.10. Only a handful of states charge more. $3.14 in New Hampshire and North Dakota and $3.15 in Arkansas, South Dakota and Maine. The lowest rate is in New Jersey where prisoners are only shelling out $1.05 for an average 15 minute call.

The distinction is the high cost to jails rather than state prisons. Local jails, maintained by county sheriffs would not have the same bargaining power as a statewide corrections agency to attain lower rates.

READ MORE: Michigan Is Still Searching for 30-Year Prison Escapee Charged with Breaking into a Payphone

The issue is in the news as the Federal Communications Commission is considering rules that would put an end to high fees paid by those in local jails. CBS News reports,

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The era of of telecom providers charging high rates to incarcerated people and their families may soon be over, according to the Federal Communications Commission, with the regulatory agency saying it is set to "end exorbitant" call charges next month.

The FCC's proposed rules would significantly lower existing per-minute rate caps for out-of-state and international audio calls from correctional facilities, and apply those rate caps to in-state audio calls, the agency announced Wednesday.

The FCC on July 18 "will vote to end exorbitant phone and video call rates that have burdened incarcerated people and their families for decades."

The fees are actually down from even more exorbitant rates from earlier in the century. A 2019 study from the Prison Policy Institute found a 15 minute call placed from a Michigan county jail would have cost $22.56. Only 1 state, Arkansas at 24.82 was costlier.

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