Allow International Calls from TDCJ

  • by: Kimber Whitehead
  • target: Bryan Collier, Executive Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Dale Wainwright, Chairman, Texas Board of Criminal Justice

Each month, eligible inmates of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) are allowed to make calls to a pre-approved number, either pre-paid or paid for by the inmate's spouse and family. Calls are 15 minutes in length and the inmate is allowed, at present, 240 minutes per month. Inmates whose family members live outside the U.S. are NOT permitted to make phone calls to their families unless approved by the warden and only for 5 minutes every 3 months.

In their General Information Guide for Families, TDCJ claims: “The mission of the TDCJ is to provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, reintegrate offenders into society and assist victims of crime. TDCJ looks forward to friends and family members also providing support for their loved-ones.” TDCJ states that “phone calls are a privilege not a right” and that communication with family is crucial and helps to reduce recidivism yet inmates with family living outside the U.S. are being denied this very privilege

Too often, families are destroyed because a parent or child is in prison. Nearly 3 million children have at least one parent in prison. These children are 6 times more likely to be incarcerated than other youth, according to public health studies. Research shows that when inmates have a supportive family, they are more likely to find a job, less likely to use drugs, and less likely to be involved in criminal activities. The support and accountability that a stable family provides have a clear, positive impact. Studies also show that children of inmates who are able to communicate with their parents have increased cognitive skills, improved academic self-esteem, and greater self control, and they change schools much less often.

In the Second Chance Act of 2007, the U.S. Congress published findings indicating that strong family and community ties were the best indicators for success upon release. Unfortunately, the members of Congress also found that prison administrators did not make use of this resource.

When calls are being paid for by the family member living outside of the U.S., and costing nearly 10 times the rate of a call made within the U.S., what’s does it matter to TDC if that inmate is calling Texas, Ireland or Canada?

If you have a loved one currently incarcerated in TDCJ and you believe that ALL inmates should be allowed to communicate with their families please read and sign this petition.

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