Faith and Works has kicked off a campaign focused on connecting incarcerated individuals with their loved ones while also bringing awareness to the exorbitant expenses families incur from jail calls. The campaign is in conjunction with the nationwide Juneteenth campaign, Breaking the Silence.
Through the campaign, Faith and Works will utilize donations to purchase an hour of phone time for approximately 550 people incarcerated in the Jefferson County Jail on June 19, 2022.
People in jail are spouses, children, siblings, and parents. Poverty keeps these families apart. Nearly half of all Americans have a loved one who has experienced incarceration in some way. Even more devastatingly,approximately 80% of women in jail are mothers, the majority of whom are sole caregivers.
“Connecting families is important,” Cara McClure, Faith and Works founder, said. “ Poor families are forced to absorb the cost of these calls in order to stay connected to the loved one who is incarcerated and if they are in the county jail most likely they haven’t been convicted of anything. While a person is on pretrial detention they need to be able to connect to take care of their affairs, talk to their children, etc.”
Another goal of the campaign is to shed light on the corruption, exploitation and cruelty that incarcerated people are subjected to in Alabama and across the country.
“We are not organizing this action to try and bandage a broken system – we are organizing it to shine a spotlight on the corruption, exploitation, and sheer cruelty that incarcerated people throughout the country are subjected to,” McClure said. “Throughout the campaign, we must keep the focus on the companies and local governments causing incarcerated people and their families to suffer, and offer a clear and concise solution to this issue.”
In county and even city-run jails, predatory contracts fly under the radar and an in-state phone call can cost up to $1 per minute in some places, which puts unjust burdens on family members. On average, jail calls cost three times as much as prison phone calls.
In Alabama, nearly $4 million in kickbacks are paid for by families and the state ranks 44th in affordability.
On a normal day, three out of every four people incarcerated in county jails have not been convicted of crimes for which they are being held. This means that the majority of incarcerated individuals are being held for pre-trial and are legally innocent. The high costs for phone calls punishes individuals who have not gone to trial, where the burden of proof lies on the state. High phone call expenses makes it more difficult for incarcerated individuals to contact their family and others who may be able to post their bail or build their defense. In turn, this burden puts them at risk of losing custody of their children, their jobs and even the roof over their heads.
Studies have consistently found that incarcerated individuals who maintain close contact with their family members have better outcomes and lower recidivism rates.
Through the initiative, Faith and Works is setting an example through community care and mutual aid and stepping up to the plate to provide this service to families of color in Jefferson County.
For less than $10 each, Alabamians can ensure that each incarcerated individual gets an hour of phone time with their families this Juneteenth. Impact a life of an incarcerated individual today by donating.
To donate, individuals can give securely here.