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Unlimited free phone calls for CDCR inmates

Domestic and international calls from wall phones and tablets are now free for “maintaining positive bonds between incarcerated people and their loved ones”

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In this June 26, 2014, file photo, an inmate uses a phone at the Cook County Jail in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

By Greg Friese

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As of Jan. 1, 2023 inmates in California state prisons are able to make free audio calls from wall phones and tablets to their friends and families. The removal of any charge for calls is because of the passage of SB 1008, the Keep Families Connected Act.

“CDCR is fully committed to maintaining positive bonds between incarcerated people and their loved ones,” CDCR Secretary Jeff Macomber said. “Making audio calls free removes the financial barriers and burdens to the population and their support system, we hope this will have a positive impact on the rehabilitative process.”

According to a CDCR news release, there is no cap on the number of free audio calls incarcerated people can make. Calls are limited to institution-set hours of operations and the 15-minute per-call time limit. Inmates can make calls domestically or internationally from the standard institutional wall phones, as well as tablets where available.

The person receiving the call will still be notified prior to accepting the call that communication is coming from an inmate and give them the option to accept the call. All calls are recorded.

CDCR’s current communications service provider, ViaPath Technologies (VPT), will continue to provide services.

People receiving calls need to have an active ConnectNetwork Advance Pay account with VPT.