Death Row inmates in Maryland have been moved from Baltimore, MD to Cumberland, MD, a distance of about 139 miles/224 kilometers. This distance is a massive problem for family members of the inmates, who often cannot make such a long journey because it is too expensive, they are not able to take time off work, they have families to care for, or a host of other reasons. This move has therefore put a tremendous strain on the inmates and their families in Maryland.
Additionally, each man on Death Row has a right to use a phone, but making phone calls has become increasingly difficult. The phone company (T-Netix/Securus) has blocked numbers of incoming callers, forcing inmates to spend money to call out to long distance numbers. There has also been a tremendous problem with dropped calls. Previously, it had cost inmates 52 cents to make a phone call lasting 30 minutes to a local number. However, now that family and friends are no longer local, expensive long distance charges has made it increasingly cost prohibitive for inmates to have contact with the outside world.
This is a matter of human rights for these inmates, and it must be addressed.
- Administrative Officer
Diana J. Beeson
- Secretary of Public Safety & Correctional Services
GARY D. MAYNARD
Martin O Malley
- Maryland State House
- Maryland State Senate
- President of the United States
- Maryland Governor
It is well known that most prisoners on death row are low-income; most could not even afford to hire an attorney during their trial. When they are convicted, death row inmates therefore have only the limited funds sent to them by family and friends to use during the time in prison. This includes money for basics such as medical, vitamins, additional food, and phone calls to family and friends. Often, prisons consider phone calls privileges, rather than a guaranteed right (excluding certain exceptions, such as contacting an attorney). Currently, the state of Maryland seems to be of that mind set, as the state is now making money off phone calls between inmates and families and loved ones.
This issue came to a head when inmates on death row were moved from Baltimore, MD to Cumberland, MD, a distance of 139 miles. The inmates are not local to this area of Maryland so all calls are now either long distance call or collect calls. Family members are forced to open phone calling accounts at very high costs and certain numbers are blocked, forcing inmates to make expensive long-distance calls. The prisons themselves are getting a percentage of the money made by the phone company on all calls.
This issue is important and needs to be addressed. Now that visits to the prison by family and friends are distance and cost prohibitive, phone calls are even more important. It is unacceptable that families and inmates are now faced with exorbitant phone bills.
We are asking the Governor of MD to look into this issue with compassion and understanding, and enable death row inmates in Maryland to make affordable phone calls to family and friends.
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