Give Prisoners Access to Free Phones Now!
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This “Bell Let’s Talk” day, let’s talk about Bell’s monopoly over the prison phone system in Canada. While Bell acts like a champion of mental health, they jeopardize the wellbeing of prisoners and their families by putting up barriers to communication. For many prisoners in Canada, phone calls cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month, and collect calls can only be made to people with landlines who have the financial means. Without family and community support, this can result in isolation, disconnection, poverty, mental health challenges, and suicide - and creates barriers for community reintegration upon release.
Phone companies like Bell and the province of Ontario profit off of the most marginalized among us. With Bell’s provincial contract up for renewal this year, we must demand justice. This “Bell Let’s Talk” day, we tell Bell, Let Us Talk!
- Free calling for prisoners
- Direct calls to cell phones and lines with switch-boards
- No 20-minute cut-off on calls
Sign the petition and help us spread the word on social media! Along with #BellLetsTalk, please bring attention to the issue with these hashtags:
In many federal prisons across Canada and all provincial prisons in Ontario, prisoners can only dial-out by making collect calls to landlines. There are no free calls, and calls can cost over a dollar per minute. Marginalized families and community members - including parents, women and children - bear the financial burden of incarceration and often cannot pay the price to keep in touch with loved ones in prison.
The high cost of prison phone calls also affects lawyers, health care providers, and community agencies who support prisoners upon release. Most prisoners re-enter the community, but reintegration is at risk when they cannot access social support, housing, and employment. Prisoner wellbeing is community wellbeing, and social connection is necessary for mental health.
Since 2013, Bell has paid the province of Ontario a commission for prison phone calls - and they continue to profit off of marginalized communities. Bell has not disclosed its phone rate, nor has the province of Ontario disclosed how much they make in kick-backs, with Freedom of Information requests being redacted.
Bell’s contract with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (CSC) is up for renewal in 2020. If we act now, we may be able to delay or cancel the contract to get a better deal for our communities.
Tell the CSC, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Canada, and Bell that prisoners need access to free phones now!
You can call and write letters to:
- Your Member of Provincial Parliament: https://www.ola.org/en/members/current/contact-information
- Your federal MP: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/search?province=ON
- Bell Canada: https://support.bell.ca/resolve-a-concern
Want to learn more? Read about prison phone lines here:
- Province gets 'kickback' from inmates' collect calls: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ontario-government-bell-jail-inmate-collect-call-commissions-1.3997146
- Protesters call on Bell to fix phone system for inmates: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/protest-demands-change-to-bell-canada-jail-phones-1.4998593
- Let’s Talk – Bell Canada makes calling from prisons needlessly difficult for incarcerated women: https://nsadvocate.org/2017/11/09/lets-talk-bell-canada-makes-calling-from-prisons-needlessly-difficult-for-incarcerated-women/
- Prisons in Canada are increasing phone costs for inmates: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/10/27/prisons-in-canada-are-increasing-the-phone-costs-for-inmates.html
- High cost of making calls from Nova Scotia jails is 'predatory,' say advocates: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/synergy-inmate-phones-jails-collect-calls-cost-1.4072950
- Telus challenges Bell deal for prison phone cards: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/telus-challenges-bell-deal-for-prison-phone-cards/article25466183/
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis yourself, or you know someone who is, please phone the 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Line: toll-free 1-866-996-0991
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