Jail phone call prices in South Carolina could increase after a federal appeals court tossed regulations that attempted to cap how facilities might bill for in-state costs.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said in a 2-1 decision Tuesday that the Federal Communication Commission did not have the authority to cap rates for in-state calls, according to the Associated Press.
That could clear a path for phone companies like Securus Technologies – the phone provider for more than 20 facilities in South Carolina, including the Lexington County jail – to change prices unless the state steps in to block price hikes.
In Lexington County, Securus charges as much as $2.50 for the first minute for in-state calls.
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Advocates for inmates and their relatives considered the court decision to be a blow after years of their arguing that the cost of those calls are a burden on the families of the incarcerated instead of on inmates themselves. Inmates rarely can afford the calls, so families bear the costs.