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Finger Lakes jails profiting off some of state’s highest inmate phone rates

nmates in the Monroe County Jail are paying some of the highest phone rates in the state — and three times that of some nearby counties, a new report shows.

The $9.95 rate for a 15-minute, in-state call is shared by a majority of local jails in New York surveyed by the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative. That is three times what Ontario and Orleans counties charge, and far more expensive than calling out-of-state or from state prison.

Counties profit off the jailhouse calls through commissions. Monroe County collects 66 percent on gross, generating $870,000 off jailhouse calls last year.

Prison Policy’s State of Phone Justice report, released Monday, comes at a time of increased pressure for reforming the nation’s corrections system, including industries that profit from it. New York City last summer eliminated charges on its jailhouse calls, becoming the first major city in the nation to do so.

In Monroe County, the money has gone to upgrade security cameras, covered computer system improvements, bought GPS monitors after an inmate escaped during a hospital visit, and paid for repairs to everything from the roof to grounds equipment like the lawnmower, said Monroe County Undersheriff Korey Brown.

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