Drop in inmate phone expenses slices $15 million from budget

First Posted: 2/7/2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio prisons agency is losing about $15 million in annual funding as it renegotiates the cost of inmates’ phone calls.

The state formerly received the money as an annual commission from Virginia-based Global Tel-Link, one of the two largest providers of inmate phone services.

The negotiations follow the Federal Communication Commission’s 2013 decision capping long-distance calls after years of complaints from inmate families and prison rights groups, meaning a 15-minute call that used to cost an Ohio inmate $17.14 will cost at most $3.75.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction used the $15 million on education, substance abuse recovery, job training and other programs.

Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith says the agency will continue to pay for those programs with other funds.