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Free phone cards for troops or inmates?

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Free phone cards for troops or inmates?

Poll ended at Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:47 am

Inmates
18
69%
Troops
8
31%
 
Total votes : 26

Postby ShaneDog » Mon Dec 27, 2004 1:18 pm

snoqueen wrote:
ShaneDog wrote:I guess I'm still wondering why the county is making inmates pay for telephone calls that could be free if they were using VOIP telephone service.

Does VOIP require people on both ends of the call to be using a computer or can it link directly with the regular phone network?

No, its just like a regular phone except that the caller needs to have their phone hooked up to the VOIP interface box which needs to be connected to a broadband internet connection. The caller can then call anyone anywhere in the united states (probably only continental US though) as many times as they want for as long as they want for the monthly fee (usually $20-$30 per line). Hell, I'd be willing to bet you could find local human services organizations that would be willing to fund it which would make it essentially free to the county.
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Postby dogmeat » Mon Dec 27, 2004 2:27 pm

ShaneDog wrote:I'm all for supporting the troops but I don't think that sending them phone cards is going to help. Most phone cards that can be used here can't be used in other countries, much less a country with a totally different phone system like Iraq. So I don't see how sending them american phone card is going to be of any help. If we want to send them something we should probably send them body armor and other stuff that they really need.


The military has its own phone system called DSN. You can use it to connect to a DSN switchboard in the United States, and then use a phone card to access an outside line and call whoever you like. Any phone card you can use in the US can be used with a DSN phone.
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Postby burstingsun » Mon Dec 27, 2004 2:28 pm

ShaneDog wrote:No, its just like a regular phone except that the caller needs to have their phone hooked up to the VOIP interface box which needs to be connected to a broadband internet connection. The caller can then call anyone anywhere in the united states (probably only continental US though) as many times as they want for as long as they want for the monthly fee (usually $20-$30 per line). Hell, I'd be willing to bet you could find local human services organizations that would be willing to fund it which would make it essentially free to the county.


Human service providers are a little tight on funds themselves per the current county budget. This sounds like a great idea, though, that would cost the county very little in the scheme of things. However, who would donate the $1.2 million that the county steals from inmates and their families under the current system?

The ideas you posted earlier about using email and IM sound good, too, but you have to remember that many of the calls made by inmates are to their young children who may not yet be able to read. For those able to read, a computer message will never be the same as hearing mom or dad's voice on the phone.

Regarding the phone card proposal in general, remember that Wiganowski was the same sup who railed on the mother featured in a newspaper article because she had children who are incarcerated. Of course, he doesn't see the need to give the phone cards to inmates. Obviously, he and his family and friends have never made mistakes or bad choices. I wonder how he would feel if he couldn't talk to his child or his mother because he couldn't afford to accept a collect call.

We need to remember that the federal government has a responsibility to provide for the troops. My understanding is that phone service is available to them. I'm all for supporting the troops but not at the expense of the neediest individuals and families. In an earlier post, Andy Olsen pointed out that the funding for the phone cards is a set aside from the money made on the outrageous jail phone contract. So now I suppose that inmates and their families should fund phone calls for the troops? Of course, when the county board passed the current phone contract, they proved that they don't mind funding services by taking from the poor. I hope they react differently in light of this proposal and keep the phone cards where they belong.
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Postby ShaneDog » Mon Dec 27, 2004 2:42 pm

I think it's immoral to be making money off of incarcerated people who are just trying to stay in touch with their families. What a shameful thing for our county to be supporting.
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Postby Stu Levitan » Mon Dec 27, 2004 3:41 pm

County Sup. Don Eggert will be my guest today (12.27) at 5:15 to discuss this issue. Invitation extended to Wiggy, too, but no reply. Calls welcome at 321-0921.
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Postby Stu Levitan » Mon Dec 27, 2004 4:50 pm

Update -- just heard from Wiggy, he'll be on after Eggert, about 5:35ish.
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Postby bmasel » Mon Dec 27, 2004 8:09 pm

Keep 'em in the land of phones. make them bring the Guardsmen home.
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message for Stu

Postby soapbox » Tue Dec 28, 2004 1:37 am

Apologies to the rest of you for an off-topic post...

But Stu, having seen your name here in the forums, I just wanted to thank you for the great work you do in your radio talk show. You let your callers speak, you ask them questions regarding what they say, you maintain a positive and dignified attitude, and you really embody what talk radio ought to be. I think your show provides a great service to the people of Madison. Thanks again.
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Postby Stu Levitan » Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:17 am

Soapie-
Thanks very much, I really appreciate that. I hope you'll enjoy the new Sunday Morning show (starting 1/2/05) as well; it will be weighted a bit more to authors, artists and musicians, but the style, spirit and politics should remain the same. And I'll still have some involvement in public affairs through Access:City Hall on CityChannel 12. But, for a variety of personal and professional reasons, I just can't keep doing radio on a daily basis.

We now resume our regular thread.
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Postby white_rabbit » Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:10 am

As long as a hi-jack is in progress....Stu I will really miss your show. It was a real treat the past few months having your show to listen to on my way back home from work.
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Postby Andy Olsen » Tue Dec 28, 2004 12:54 pm

What's the story with Stu's show going away? I agree, it's been a good job. Tough time slot, though.

On the question of VOIP:
- It still leaves the County with a $1.3 million hole in the budget. Raising property taxes to reduce inmate call costs is not going to be popular (to put it mildly). Nor would cutting services.
- I don't think it's free, just cheaper. There'd be hardware and maintenance costs.
- We don't have broadband into the jail pods and cells.
- It seems like very good technology for the troops in Iraq. Maybe if we ask that Halliburton get the contract, they can implement it with a hefty enough profit margin.
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Postby ShaneDog » Tue Dec 28, 2004 1:01 pm

Andy Olsen wrote:What's the story with Stu's show going away? I agree, it's been a good job. Tough time slot, though.
On the question of VOIP:
- It still leaves the County with a $1.3 million hole in the budget. Raising property taxes to reduce inmate call costs is not going to be popular (to put it mildly). Nor would cutting services.

First of all, it doesn't make sense to fill the hole in the budget by making money off of inmate phone calls. They should have to pay for their phone calls but it should not be used as a revenue source.
- I don't think it's free, just cheaper. There'd be hardware and maintenance costs.
It's not free, but it is unlimited local and long distance calls for a flat rate ($50 a month at the most). There are no hardware or maintenance costs other than the monthly fee. This could easily be covered by allowing inmates to buy some kind of phone pass for $10 a month or something that would allow them to make a certain # of minutes of calls per month.
- We don't have broadband into the jail pods and cells.

You don't need to have broadband in the jail, just somewhere in the building. If there's no broadband anywhere in the building, and I would find that very hard to believe, there will soon be wireless broadband downtown which means you could set up anywhere.
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