TOPEKA, Kan. (Legal Newsline) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced June 15 that a federal appeals court struck down federal limits on the price for inmate calling services.
A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation capped the cost of prison and jail phone calls within states. Schmidt, along with eight other state attorneys general, filed a lawsuit in 2016 claiming the FCC did not have authority to create such a rule. They claimed that the rule effectively required taxpayers to subsidize inmate phone calls by regulating what prisons could charge their inmates.
“This case was one of our remaining challenges to overreaching federal regulations implemented during the Obama administration,” Schmidt said. “The Court affirmed our view that the federal government lacked this authority to regulate the states. Under our federal system, not all power resides in Washington.”
Schmidt noted that the price for interstate prisoner phone calls—calls that cross state lines—are still limited by the FCC. Intrastate calls, however, can be set by telecommunications companies, or state prisons and local jails, so long as the prices comply with state regulations.