Phone Calls to and From California State Prisons Will Be Free Starting January 1

Families of incarcerated loved ones spend approx $68M on prison telecoms per year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Starting on January 1, 2023, incarcerated people in California’s state prison system will be able to make and receive phone calls for free. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Keep Families Connected Act into law earlier this year after the legislation was introduced by state Sen. Josh Becker.

In introducing the legislation, Becker said he wanted to help relieve the financial burdens many families face when trying to communicate with a person who is incarcerated. Speaking to the San Quentin News this month, Becker claimed that “predatory phone companies make an estimated $1.4 billion in the prison telecom industry.” In California alone, that figure is estimated to be north of $68M, according to nonprofit Worth Rises.

The nonprofit estimates that as many as 1 in 3 families go into debt attempting to keep communication open with an incarcerated loved one.

According to the San Quentin News, California is the second state in the country to enact this sort of legislation, behind Connecticut. Several major cities, including New York, LA, San Diego, and San Francisco, have similar policies in place on the local level, the news outlet reported.