CURE challenges phone rules

Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE) leads the campaign to challenge new federal BOP rules restricting phone use for prisoners. Kay Perry, Director of the eTc (Equitable Telephone Charges) Campaign has called the new policy of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to restrict inmate calls "a gigantic step backwards from the Bush Administration's (alleged) pro-family initiative."

The eTc Campaign is a national effort by a coalition of a dozen organizations to lower the cost of prisoner-initiated telephone calls. Since its beginning two years ago, there has been movement toward reduction in most states.

"President Bush has called for special help for children of prisoners," Perry commented. "Then, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, his prison system, discourages parental involvement. Perhaps this new rule will be canceled once the President realizes how counter-productive it is to his agenda."

Effective April 2, 2001, inmates are limited to 300 minutes per month. According to a BOP 'Memorandum For Inmate Population', "This limitation is needed to maintain the security and good order...and provides adequate opportunity for inmates to maintain community ties, in conjunction with visiting and written correspondence."

"Although at first 300 minutes a month sounds like a lot of time on the phone," Perry wrote in a recent CURE press release, "It is not a lot when you are trying to help your child with his or her homework or hear about what is happening at school. 300 Minutes a month is ten minutes a day. How can a child continue a relationship with a mother or father when they only talk for ten minutes a day?"

"Certainly visiting and written correspondence are very important to sustaining parent/child bonding," Perry elaborated, "but they are not a substitute for the 'how was your day and I am here to help' daily phone call.

Many credible observers write that as a parent, many things are required of you-practical skills, understanding and resourcefulness. You are the key the heart of the process. Loving, alert, healthy children don't just happen. The seed is there...but these things need to be drawn out, nurtured, and taught'."

"Statistics show that children of incarcerated parents end up disproportionately in prison," Perry concluded. "This is one of the reasons why President Bush has expressed pro-family interest in the issue and why society is moving in the direction of family-friendly inmate phone policies. This new rule by the Federal Bureau of Prisons goes in the exact opposite direction!"

Write, OR fax Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, BOP Director 320 First St. NW - Washington DC 20534 - 202-307-3250 - Fax 202-514-6878

Breaking News May 1, 2001

On April 26th, CURE met with the BOP for 70 minutes on their new 300-minute limitation policy. Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, Director, and three of her staff met with us. Beside Charlie Sullivan, there were Pauline Sullivan, Fred Mosely and one of CURE's pro bono attorneys on the inmate phone issue. Also, Elizabeth Alexander, Director of the ACLU's National Prison Project, and the Director of the D.C. Prisoner's Legal Services.

Fred Mosely, Director of CURE's Federal Chapter, opened the meeting with a very emotional and eloquent presentation on how unlimited phone calls impacted his family when he was a prisoner in the BOP. This was followed by an "everything on the table" exchange that we thought made our case for at least a waiver for family members from the 300 minute limitation. Dr. Sawyer, however, kept coming back to the Office of Inspector General's PRESENT review of the remedies that have been implemented to stop the abuses. She seemed open to the waiver if the present OIG review showed that the abuses have been stopped. Nonethless, she was firm on keeping this 300-minute limit for the unknown duration of the OIG Review that could take 18 months. By then, we feel strongly the 300-minute limit will be "written in stone".

P.S. What really came through during the meeting was the impact of what you are doing by contacting your members of Congress. I CANNOT OVERSTATE HOW MUCH YOU SHOULD CONTINUE THIS POLITICAL PRESSURE! The U.S. Capitol Switchboard's general numbers are 202-224-3121 or 225-3121. To write your two Senators, the address is U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510. To write your Representative, the address is U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515.