LANSING, Mich. — Inmates at Ingham County Jail will pay less for phone calls under a newly approved contract.

At least one prisoner advocate says it’s a step in the right direction but still not enough.

Telephone rates for prisoners will drop to 21 cents per minute from 91 cents per minute. The move is part of a Federal Communications Commission mandate demanding lower charges for prisoner phone calls.

Ingham County Commissioner Derrell Slaughter said this should have an impact on recidivism rates.

“Being able to communicate via a phone call or video chat or even as an email message, studies have shown that it reduces the likelihood of these people returning to prison,” Slaughter said.

Daniel Jones works with an advocacy group called the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration.

Jones applauds what Ingham County is doing because it will help families.

“Ingham County is the one that came out and said, ‘OK, we understand the problem here’ and they did something about it. But other counties in the state of Michigan just allow those prices. high to make things worse for people facing criminal trials for poverty, mental health issues or substance abuse issues,” Jones said.

The contract change will take effect immediately.

Slaughter says the county makes about $100,000 a year from prisoner phone calls, but that figure is expected to drop due to the change.

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