LCSO lowers inmate phone call rates

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. For jails in Nebraska, inmate phone services are big business.

"We want them making phone calls because their mental health deteriorates in here if they don't get contact with the outside world," said Lincoln County Sheriff Jerome Kramer.

In fact, a recent study by the ACLU found some counties were charging outrageous fees for inmates to call home.

"I saw a figure for $600 a week an inmate was paying, come on," Kramer said.

Last year, the Lincoln County Detention Center generated $3,900 a month from phone calls.

"They were charging a flat rate of $3.50 for each phone call and an additional 40 cents a minute for those phone calls," said Kramer. "So it was really costing these guys a lot of money."

The center made the switch last spring to 21 cents a minute.

"The inmates that have the money to make the phone calls are making the phone calls and the one's that can't afford it are still getting the phone calls they need to make to their family because it's affordable," Kramer said.

While some still challenge the income made from these calls goes back to the county, Kramer says that's not the case.

"That money stays right here in the detention center for the care of the inmates, it doesn't go anywhere in the county for any other equipment," Kramer said. "So when we can get them calling out of here and we can make the money to cover our costs it's a win for everyone."

Sheriff Kramer says their monthly gross income has stayed the same even after they reduced their cost by nearly 50 percent.