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FREE! Our Families and Communities from the culture and industry of prison



In July 2003 FREE!, then the Prison Families Communities Forum (PFCF) launched the Stop the Contract grassroots organizing campaign. Through community outreach, public forums and legal trainings Stop the Contract has raised awareness and brought visibility to an illegal and unlegislated tax on our families.

Over $26 million in profits are skimmed each year off of our need to communicate with our loved ones. Our money is pocketed by NYS and administered to NYS Department of Correctional Services (DOCs) Commissioner . Every collect call received from a NYS prison has carried a tariff of almost 68%, that’s about $9.00 for a half an hour phone call!

The monopolistic contract between the Department of Corrections and Verizon/MCI/Worldcom mandates that all calls from NYC prisons must be collect, and must be serviced by Verizon/MCI. This violates not only our First Amendment right to free association, but our rights to fair and reasonable rates, choice of service provider in a competitive market, and human right to keep our families together.

The New York Campaign for Telephone Justice is a larger and stronger ”Stop the Contract” in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights and other organizations and individuals throughout the state to win fair and reasonable rates and treatment for our families, and we need YOUR VOICE to succeed. Governor Eliot Spitzer has promised a change we’re holding him to it!

Please sign our petition and speak out against this unjust issue.

In the fall of 2003, when DOCs discovered that Remote Call Forwarding companies could intercept calls with just a local charge that they instituted a flat rate filed through the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Though FREE! members at large wrote numerous letters and placed numerous phone calls demanding a fair public hearing, the most the PSC did to respond was to take us off of the speedy agenda and discuss the issue for five minutes.

The Commissioners, appointed by then Governor George Pataki more than shied away from calling their boss to the carpet on this one!

They bifurcated the rate and took only responsibility for what the utility or MCI charged and refused to look into the legality/morality of the contract, itself!

People who were paying around $3.00-4.00 per call are now paying $10 just like everyone else! And to add insult to injury, VERIZON/MCI is tried to offer pre-paid plans so that people who are a little late (or said to be) paying their bills have been forced to fork over the money BEFORE a call is even made!