66,000 Imprisoned New Yorkers Exploited
Today, October 13th, the New York Campaign for Telephone Justice continues arguments, in the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany, NY. The Class Action lawsuit, named for Founding Member of FREE!
Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment’s Ivey Walton (Walton v. New York State Department of Correctional Services – NYS DOCS) demands that the illegal and unconstitutional kickback of over $26 million per year, stolen from family members of people incarcerated in New York State.
For over 10 years, families of prisoners have suffered and struggled to maintain telephone service, a crucial lifeline, not only for staying connected with loved ones in prison, but for day to day living – while hundreds of millions of dollars were stolen from them by NY State. The monopoly contract between NYS DOCS and (then) MCI produced atrocious abuses of tens of thousands of people who had/have lost a loved one to the system of mass incarceration. From gross overcharging, dropping calls, suspending phone service, to restricting options, curtailing competition, and subhuman treatment, families of the 66,000 imprisoned New Yorkers have been exploited.
In 2007, the NY Campaign for Telephone Justice, led by a partnership between the Center for Constitutional Rights, FREE! Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment (then “Prison Families Community Forum”), Prison Families of NY and many other allies, won a nearly 50% reduction in the cost of these collect calls by eliminated the kickback that New York State was pocketing. Deemed unlegislated – in essence, illegal – such “commissions” are to be prevented through the full implementation of the Family Connections Bill (2007).
Walton v. NYSDOCS contends that the monies illegally seized, and the subsequent financial and emotional hardships must be restored. This is essential, not only to the named and included plaintiffs across New York State, but to send a clear message throughout the United States that theft and abuse by Corporate and Government partnerships is not what this country stands for, and will not be tolerated!
Please join us online to view the live oral argument here.
FREE, (founded in 2002 as the Prison Families Community Forum), is a collective of women and men with incarcerated loved ones fighting to free our families and our communities from prison.