RICHMOND, Calif. – At the West County Detention Facility, inmates can pay upwards of $20 for a five-minute phone call to friends, relatives or lawyers. While the high rates are a cash cow for the prison, for detainees they have become a major hurdle to staying in touch with the outside.
For immigrant detainees and their families, the high phone rates can lead to total isolation.
“$50 gets about 15 minutes of actual talk time,” said Roberto dela Rosa, whose mother is currently being held at WCDF. Dela Rosa noted that with repeated dropped calls and reconnection fees, the cost of a single conversation rivals a single families’ monthly phone bill.