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Public Services Committee Airs Inmate Phone Call Costs

Issue Date: September 6, 2018

After some discussion on cost of calls for jail inmates and/or the family members they may be calling, Marinette County Board's Public Services Committee on Tuesday, Sept. 4 agreed to extend the contract with IC Solutions for another year.

Jail Administrator Robert Majewski said the county has had the same inmate phone provider since 2006, but he thinks it must be a lucrative business because there are a lot of businesses competing to provide the service.

In response to questions from Supervisor Ginger Deschane, Majewski said originally Marinette County was guaranteed revenue of at least $100,000 a year for allowing IC Solutions to provide the jail inmate telephone service, plus $400 for use of county personnel to maintain their equipment. At that time jail inmates were charged $10.75 for each 10 minute phone call, and of that, the county got $8.37.

Then there was an FCC ruling that outlawed those high charges and the price dropped to $2.10 for each 10-minute inmate call, and of this the county got $1.41.

There were more legal battles, and the FCC was told they could regulate cost of inter-state calls but not calls within the state. Currently the inmates are charged $2.50 for each 10 minutes call, and of this the county gets 70 percent, or $2.27.

Deschane asked then why was there reference to $5.95 per call. Administrator John LeFebvre said that was for integrated voice services. After further discussion it was decided that price applied to each 10-minute call made by a prisoner using a credit card. There also appeared to be a charge of 35 cents per minute for inmates who use their trust account, with no additional per call charge imposed.

Majewski said families of many inmates put money into an account for their pre-paid calls rather than into their canteen account.

Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison pointed out the question regarding $5.95 per call had not been answered. Majewski said he wasn't sure what that price was for, but would find out.

Deschane wondered how soon they needed the agreement approved. She suggested since the committee would probably approve the contact anyway, they should go ahead, and approve now, but she still wanted her questions answered. "We don't want them not to have phone service, but I would like to know what it costs them," she repeated. Majewski is to get the answers and report back at the committee meeting the next month.

Supervisor George Kloppenburg commented that the price of collect calls is exorbitant, and often once an inmate calls home and his family gets the bill they're told not to call that way again.

Sheriff Jerry Sauve informed the committee that Joseph Larson, who had been Marinette County Sheriff from 1979 to 1989 had passed away at his retirement home in Florida on Tuesday, Aug. 28. He said funeral services are tentatively set for Saturday, Sept. 22, and he hoped plans would be complete in time for the obituary to be published in this week's Peshtigo Times.

Lt. Jason Ducane reported he had attended the Governor's Traffic Safety Conference in Madison recently and while there had won a portable breath tester for the department as a prize from the Bureau of Traffic Safety at no cost to the county except for his presence at the luncheon where it was awarded.

The committee approved renewal of a memorandum of understanding with Rainbow House Domestic Abuse Services, Inc. Under that agreement the Sheriff's Department will transport domestic violence victims from the scene of the violence to Rainbow House.

There was considerable discussion on need to replace the Uninterrupted Power Supply unit at the Law Enforcement Center, as well as the backup generator and hopefully install a redundant power supply line to prevent recurrence of some power failures that recently wreaked havoc with a lot of equipment, including the some of 911 emergency dispatch center equipment, and automated doors at the jail.There will be more coming on this. Recent emergency repairs for the USP had cost $14,097.


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