Court to settle dispute over prisoner phone rates

Posted Jan. 15, 2009, at 9:32 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A dispute over telephone rates for calls to state prisoners in Maine has gone to the state’s highest court.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court will settle the issue of whether the Department of Corrections or the Public Utilities Commission has jurisdiction over the phone rates. The issue stems from complaints by family members of Maine inmates complaining of inflated rates for prisoners’ phone calls.

In Maine, local calls generally cost about 3 cents per minute, but Maine Department of Corrections charges family members 30 cents per minute. On top of that, there’s an additional surcharge that produces revenue for Department of Corrections.