LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Tuesday applauded a federal appeals court’s decision partially striking down a Federal Communications Commission rule that would have limited rates that can be charged on prison inmates’ phone calls.
In a 2-1 decision, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said the FCC exceeded its authority when it attempted to place a cap on in-state prison phone calls. The court said the FCC can cap rates on interstate prison calls, however.
The rule, which now can apply only to calls out of state, caps inmate calls at 11 cents per minute for calls from state and federal prisons. In jails, prices will range from 14 cents to 22 cents per minute, depending on the size of the institution.
The cap amounts to a more than 50 percent decrease from previous limits on interstate calls. The FCC did not previously have a rate cap for in-state calls.
Arkansas and several other states were allowed in March 2016 to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Oklahoma challenging the rule.
“This order from the FCC was nothing less than a power grab that I am pleased to see much of invalidated,” Rutledge said in a statement Tuesday. “The FCC failed to consider numerous issues, including costs that would have directly impacted the local budgets of cities and counties across Arkansas.”
Rutledge said the rule ignored significant costs borne by the states and their need to recoup these costs from providers.