Oklahoma County Jail Earns $135,000 from Inmate Phone Call Kickbacks, Sparking Concerns

The Oklahoma County Jail generates significant revenue from kickbacks on inmate phone calls, sparking concerns over the high costs affecting inmate families and mental health, with the jail trust planning to discuss solutions to lower or eliminate these costs. The issue takes place in the context of the US criminal justice system, where Oklahoma jails have the 9th highest cost in the nation for a 15-minute phone call, leading to financial burdens on families and negative impacts on inmate mental health." This description focuses on the primary topic of inmate phone call costs, the main entities involved (Oklahoma County Jail and the jail trust), the context of the US criminal justice system, and the significant actions and consequences related to the issue. The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content.

author-image
Aqsa Younas Rana
New Update
Oklahoma County Jail Earns $135,000 from Inmate Phone Call Kickbacks, Sparking Concerns

Oklahoma County Jail Earns $135,000 from Inmate Phone Call Kickbacks, Sparking Concerns

The Oklahoma County Jail generated $135,000 in April 2024 from kickbacks on phone calls made by inmates, sparking concerns over the high costs affecting inmate families and mental health. Oklahoma jails have the 9th highest cost in the nation for a 15-minute phone call, according to a 2021 report by the Prison Policy Initiative. The added kickback costs are tacked on to the phone call charges and given to the jails.

Why this matters: The exorbitant costs of inmate phone calls have far-reaching consequences, affecting not only the families of those incarcerated but also the mental health and rehabilitation of inmates themselves. As the issue persists, it may lead to a broader discussion on the need for reform in the criminal justice system and the prioritization of rehabilitation over revenue generation.

Derrick Scobey, an Oklahoma County Jail Trust member, emphasized the importance of affordable phone calls for inmates, saying, "They need as many phone calls as possible to be made to family members, maybe close friends who have made a difference in the life of that person." Joe Allbaugh, Chairman of the Oklahoma County Jail Trust, acknowledged the discomfort with the high revenue, stating, "It does cause, I think, each and every one of us heartburn when you see that amount."

The high cost of phone calls leads to families having to make sacrifices, such as going without food or essential medications. A study found that one in three families nationwide with an incarcerated loved one went into debt because of the costs of communication and visitation. Jess Eddy, an advocate for those in jail, highlighted the impact on families, saying, "I think everybody can understand some people just want to talk to their mom or dad or their husband or wife, and you know, not to be able to do that because the calls cost so much money is really just wrong."

The lack of affordable communication options can also negatively impact the mental health of inmates, who may need to talk to someone during a mental health crisis. Jail trust members acknowledge that while the money helps fill holes in the budget, they do not believe this is the right way to fix their financial problems. They plan to discuss possible solutions to lowering or eliminating the cost of a phone call from jail.

The Oklahoma County Jail's $135,000 in revenue from phone call kickbacks in April 2024 underscores the ongoing issue of high communication costs for inmates and their families. As the jail trust explores potential solutions, advocates continue to call for more affordable options to support the well-being of those incarcerated and their loved ones on the outside.

Key Takeaways

  • Oklahoma County Jail generated $135,000 in April 2024 from inmate phone call kickbacks.
  • Oklahoma jails have the 9th highest cost in the nation for a 15-minute phone call.
  • High phone call costs affect inmate families, leading to debt and sacrifices.
  • Lack of affordable communication options negatively impacts inmate mental health.
  • Jail trust members plan to discuss solutions to lower or eliminate phone call costs.