Plan calls for reduced phone rates for Cook County Jail inmates

Cook County GovernmentToni Preckwinkle

Cook County Jail inmates would pay less for phone calls and get to stay on the horn longer under a plan pending before the County Board.

Currently, a 15-minute call at the jail costs as much as $9.99. Under a proposal, the cost of a 15-minute call would drop to $4 and a 30-minute call would cost $7.

Inmates had been limited to 15-minute calls, but commissioners are looking at doubling that to 30 minutes, according to a proposed change in the county’s contract with Securus Technologies.

In exchange for the changes, negotiated after Chicago Public Radio reports highlighted the issue, the firm’s contract would be extended to December 2014. It’s now set to end next September.

The lower rates would go into affect after Dec. 18, when the County Board is set to vote on the deal.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said the lower rates will help detainees, some of whom are charged with non-violent offenses and simply cannot afford to make bail, maintain ties to family and friends that can improve their odds of success when they return home.

hdardick@tribune.com

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