Inmate Phone Calls

Federal Bureau of Prisons inmates cannot pick up the telephone to call their friends or loved ones whenever they want. Similarly, inbound calls and cell phones are not permitted in federal prisons. There is a monitored prison phone system available for inmate use, however, which allows inmates limited outbound telephone privileges from their housing units. Using this system, inmates may make outgoing calls to contacts on a pre-approved list of contacts. Inmates can make up to 300 minutes of prison phone calls each month while incarcerated.

How to Put Money on a Phone Account for Inmate Calls

Inmates can make either direct-dial or collect telephone calls from federal prisons. When making a collect call, the recipient must agree to pay for the call. When making a direct-dial call, charges for the call are debited from the inmate’s trust fund account.

Direct-dial telephone call costs are subject to change, but are currently as follows:

  • Local calls: $0.06/minute
  • U.S. long-distance calls: $0.21/minute
  • Calls to Canada: $0.35/minute
  • Calls to Mexico: $0.55/minute
  • Other international calls: $0.99/minute

Collect calls carry connection fees of $0.06 to $0.38 each minute for local calls and $0.56 per minute when calling long distance. As you can see, direct-dial calls are significantly cheaper than collect calls.

You can electronically add money to an inmate’s phone services account by using MoneyGram or Western Union or by mailing a money order to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ central processing location via the U.S. Postal Service.

How Many Phone Calls Can an Inmate Make a Day?

Prisoners may make more than one phone call each day if they are calling pre-approved phone numbers. And, as previously mentioned, inmates are allowed up to 300 minutes of prison phone calls each month. In November and December, the prison Warden may authorize an additional 100 minutes, on top of the allowed 300 minutes, to promote family contact over the holiday season.

Jail phone hours are limited. While hours start as early as 6:00 a.m. and extend as late as 11:30 p.m., in most cases, prison phone calls are limited during the hours when inmates are expected to be at their work assignments (typically 7:30-10:30 a.m. and 12:30-4:00 p.m.).

In addition, phone calls are limited to no more than 15 minutes. Prison Wardens also determine a waiting interval between phone calls, and back-to-back calls are generally not allowed. In most cases, inmates must wait one hour from the start of their last prison phone call before they are able to place another phone call. These limitations can make it difficult for prisoners to make multiple jail phone calls in the same day.

Are Inmate Phone Calls Public Record?

Prison phone calls initiated by inmates are recorded and are subject to monitoring. These provisions are in place to protect the security of the facility and to protect the public. Prison phone calls placed to an attorney using proper procedures are not recorded or monitored, however, because such communications are subject to attorney-client privilege.

While jail phone calls are recorded and monitored, they are not considered public records. In other words, recordings of calls made using inmate phone services cannot be subpoenaed or otherwise accessed by the public, but police and prosecutors would have the right to review recordings under certain circumstances.

Zoukis Consulting Group Can Help

It is important to note that using prison phones is a privilege, not a right, extended to inmates. As such, those privileges may be restricted by the prison Warden. Wardens also have the right to temporarily suspend or even terminate access to inmates’ phones based on conduct.

For more information about placing phone calls from prison, contact Zoukis Consulting Group.