Families with incarcerated loved ones will continue to face challenges as they grapple with the exorbitant cost of phone calls with inmates. These calls can be as high as $10 per minute at some facilities. Two years ago, telecom companies and some state governments filed suit against FCC rules which limited the price of in state prison phone calls. Last month, a federal appeals court ruled against the FCC rules. Learn more at http://www.npr.org/2017/06/18/533438857/fcc-decides-to-cap-prices-of-in-state-phone-calls-by-prison-inmates.
In response to a Charlotte Observer investigation regarding prison corruption, Senate leader Phil Berger has said that he plans to call for a legislative inquiry on prison corruption. Moreover, Governor Roy Cooper has called upon Secretary of Public Safety Erik Hooks to identify ways to address the issues identified in the investigation. The investigation exposed a host of problems. These include officers physically abusing inmates, permitting or encouraging attacks on inmates, having sex with inmates, and running contraband rings inside prisons. Learn more at http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article155319679.html
The DEA has proposed action that is reminiscent of the unsuccessful “War on Drugs” of the 1980s. This “War on Drugs” involved draconian and discriminatory sentencing for drug offenders. The current proposal is that the DEA hire a separate prosecutor corps of as many as 20 prosecutors to prosecute cases related to drug trafficking, money laundering. The proposal, according to DEA spokesman Rusty Payne, is in response to the opioid crisis. Opponents of the plan, including the Drug Policy Alliance, fear that the plan exceeds the DEA’s authority under federal law and represents movement away from treating drug addiction as a public health crisis. Learn more at http://www.npr.org/2017/05/04/526784152/dea-seeks-prosecutors-to-fight-opioid-crisis-critics-fear-return-to-war-on-drugs
Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy have pledged to fight back against Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vow to seek the longest possible sentences even for non-violent drug offenses. Paul, Leahy, and Democrat Jeff Merkley have introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act, which would allow federal judges the discretion to give out sentences below the mandatory minimum in some cases. The Senators noted the failure of increasing incarceration to lower crime rates, as well as the extraordinary cost to taxpayers. They also noted the ineffectiveness of Sessions’ approach for treating opioid addiction.