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Jail Inmates Phone Home, County Profits 5.24.2006

By Rick Racela

CREST HAVEN — County jail inmates apparently love talking on the phone. And that’s just fine with the county. It will probably make some $120,000 a year on the deal.
The county just inked a four-year contract with Global Tel Link Corp. of Mobile, Ala. — it’s on the state contract — to provide inmate telephone services and pay the county a commission of 53 percent.
The prior contract with AT&T paid 32 percent and that netted the county $73,571 last year.
Under the new contract, callers pay a $1.75 fee to place the call.  Local calls then cost five cents a minute, calls outside the area code 20 cents a minute, and interstate calls 89 cents a minute.
Actually, it’s not the prisoner who pays.  All calls are collect and the person who accepts the call is billed.
Prison Warden Richard P. Harron pointed out that phone calls are considered a privilege.
There are two telephones in each of the prison’s housing units, a total of about 30.
Inmates can make five, 15-minute calls a day.
The inmates monthly submit a list of 10 names and phone numbers they may want to call. These are pre-approved, then submitted to the phone company which electronically manages all that.
Sometimes, said the warden, people on the list will decide they don’t want to be called and the prison will have blocks put on their numbers.
There is one person prisoners can call at any time, without restrictions — their lawyers.
Contact Zelnik at (609) 886-8600 Ext. 27 or: jzelnik@cmcherald.com

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