VANCOUVER -- Inmates at a jail in the Lower Mainland say dropping a dime seems to be of no use because their prison phone service can’t carry a call.
Nearly 100 prisoners at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge signed a letter of complaint and petition to Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton about dropped calls and unfair billing by Telus.
Prisoners’ phone calls are listened to by authorities unless they are speaking with their lawyer. Inmates said their calls were being dropped because they were suspected of being three-way calls, which are not permitted for prisoners.
“We then get charged 90 cents for 30 minutes of calls (not utilized) and our family simultaneously have been billed an additional $2 if it’s a landline the call has been made to,” the letter read.
In an attached letter to Telus, the inmates wrote they have to make a call three to four times before it can be completed, and calling customers using Wind Mobile often results in dropped calls.
Their petition demands Telus “rectify the defects.”
Corrections B.C. spokesperson Marnie Mayhew said even if the phone calls, paid for through a debit system, are dropped prisoners are reimbursed.
“If it’s determined an inmate’s debit call was dropped by the Telus service provider in error, which can be determined by reviewing a portion of the recorded call, the inmate will be reimbursed for the cost of the local or long distance debit call,” Mayhew said.
“It’s important to understand that inmates could be placing calls to people who use prepaid long-distance cards or phone services and calls may be dropped by that carrier.”
Mayhew said if there’s a problem with dropped calls from prepaid cards the subscriber may want to consider switching to another company.
Telus spokesman Shawn Hall said it has helped corrections to develop a system for their “unique needs.”