Cost for Prisoners Make Rehabilitation Difficult

In response to the Free Press' April 5 interview with state Corrections Director Daniel Heyns: On behalf of National Lifers of America Inc., Chapter 1026-A, we disagree with the Corrections director's comments suggesting that if we don't want to pay higher phone bills, don't come to prison. It seems that even this director is not in touch with the impact the increased cost has had on a prisoners' telephone calls, which has tripled per minute, with the department's 12-cent-per-minute surcharge for "security equipment."

Even good people who make mistakes can come to prison. The majority of MDOC prisoners come from poor or lower-middle-class families. Over the last three years, the cost of prisoner commissary items has more than doubled. Now the Federal Communications Commission has increased the prisoner telephone tax from 15.3% to 17.9%. Yet prisoner job assignment wages have remained at the same low rate since 1987, averaging $8 to $12 a month.

More than half of all prisoners in the Michigan Department of Corrections do not have jobs. Many are on indigent status, in which they are provided only $10 a month to purchase hygiene products only, which they must repay. In addition, prisoners are required to pay a $5 medical co-pay, postage has increased, and many prisoners are required to pay thousands of dollars of court-ordered restitution, costs and fines.

Gas prices and economic decline have prevented many prisoner family visits. And now the unjustified increase for telephone calls has eliminated many families' communications with prisoners.

You don't rehabilitate people by eliminating family ties and communication with loved ones. You don't punish the unfortunate families and children of those incarcerated by eliminating their communication with their loved ones.

Fred (Corky) Proctor #178602

National Lifers of America Inc. (Chapter 1026-A)

Chairman, Public and Government Relations Committee

Michigan Reformatory

1342 W. Main Street

Ionia, MI 48846