New York, NY —
REPORTER: Inmates at New York State prisons will soon be charged the same rates for collect calls as everyone else. For more than 10 years now, inmates and their families have been charge about 600 times more than other customers, because of a state tax on inmate calls. Governor Spitzer announced yesterday that starting in April, the state will no longer impose the extra charges. Now, families will only have to pay the actual price of a call. Ricky O'Donaghue has a 23 year old son in prison and says it will help him to save more than $100 a month. But for other families, O'Donaghue says it will mean the difference between communicating or not.
O’DONAGHUE: What I most felt for was for people less fortunate than I am. That they can't pay these bills to speak to their loved ones. having to decide whether to put food on the table or pay these bills that's really a hurtful thing.
REPORTER: The millions of dollars generated each year by the tax was used to pay for mandated prison services like health care. Those programs will now be paid for by the general fund.