"DoN't CaLiFoRniA mY IdAho!"

First off, let's calm down! This isn't a push for Idaho to adopt the ways of California by any means. That being said, California just passed a law that could entice other states to follow... and while it doesn't necessarily mean more "freedom", it does mean inmates will be entitled to a privilege previously not allowed.

California inmates will now get free phone calls

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), the Keeping Families Connected Act passed and went into effect on January 1st of this year. The CDCR says:

Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, audio calls made from standard institution wall phones and tablets by an incarcerated person in a California state prison will be free of charge to the incarcerated person and their friends and families.

I could immediately see how someone can look at that and think: "Well, they messed up! They lost that privilege!"

I can't say I disagree, but it does present an interesting perspective from the families and loved ones of inmates. These people were collateral damage to the bad choices made by the incarcerated person and are torn away from their imprisoned relative, friend, or even lover.

One could argue that that's the price an inmate pays... but should those close relatives lose their right to communicate with their loved one in prison?

Photo by Karsten Winegart on Unsplash
Photo by Karsten Winegart on Unsplash

It doesn't stop at phone calls...

According to the website for CDCR, the free calls are just "one of several ways incarcerated people can connect with their loved ones." They also offer video visits, "electronic messaging", and more.

Will this set a precedent for other states to follow? Only time will tell. According to PrisonPolicy.org, Idaho has an incarceration rate of 761 per 100,000 people and 13,000 people are locked up in Idaho. Would the Keeping Families Connected Act benefit Idahoans or be detrimental to Idaho?

Let me know your thoughts here!

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