Why San Francisco Wants to Stop Charging Inmates for Phone Calls

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San Francisco's most modern detention facility, County Jail #5 in San Bruno, employs a "direct supervision" pod design. (San Francisco Department of Public Works)

The cost of going to jail is both personal and financial. That’s exacerbated by the price of phone calls from the inside. In San Francisco, a 15-minute phone call can cost $2.10. Other jails charge about $5. And it's often the family and friends of incarcerated people who pay these fees; often they are women of color and low-income people. So, San Francisco plans to eliminate fees for phone calls from jails, and will stop marking up the cost of items such as toiletries and food at the commissary. The proposal is personal for Mayor London Breed whose family members have served time in jail. She sees it as a form of rehabilitation that can improve inmate behavior and help people reenter society.

Guest: Marisa Lagos, correspondent for KQED’s Politics and Government Desk