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Michigan Department of Corrections Lowers Prisoner Phone Rates by Nearly 40%

Contact: Chris Gautz 
(517) 256-3790


Michigan Department of Corrections Lowers Prisoner Phone Rates by Nearly 40% 

New phone contract following passage of bipartisan state budget will save families $11 million annually 

Today, the Michigan Department of Corrections announced a nearly 40% reduction of prisoner phone rates after a recent contract renegotiation with their telecommunications provider, ViaPath Technologies. At 8.7 cents per minute, the new rate is 38% lower than the current rate of 14 cents per minute, and this reduction was made possible because of the bipartisan budget signed earlier this year by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

“Today, we are taking action to save families money while also providing incarcerated Michiganders a way to communicate with their kids, partners, and loved ones,” said Governor Whitmer. “Lowering rates by nearly 40% is expected to save families $11 million a year.”

“Enabling prisoners and their loved ones to maintain communication and in an affordable fashion is good for everyone involved,” said Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington. “This new rate will not only help keep important community connections intact and save prisoners and families money, but the same level of vital technological and security services will stay in place.”

“Safe & Just Michigan wants to thank Governor Whitmer for recognizing that keeping incarcerated people connected to their friends and families promotes successful rehabilitation and reentry,” said John Cooper, Executive Director Safe & Just Michigan. “This reduction in phone fees will make a real difference to families all across our state struggling to stay connected despite losing a wage earner to incarceration. This change in fees will pay off in safer Michigan communities.”

The reduced cost per minute was renegotiated following the passage of the new state budget. The new, reduced rates, will go into effect on Oct. 1, and are expected to save families $11 million per year. A 15-minute phone call will now cost $1.31, compared to five years ago when it cost $3 for 15 minutes. Additionally, ViaPath is providing one, free 10-minute phone call per week to prisoners.

This nearly 40 percent rate decrease is not the first time a reduction in phone rates has taken place in recent memory. In 2018, the department required phone rates to decline from 20 cents per minute for prepaid calls, 21 cents per minute for debit calls, and 25 cents per minute for collect calls, to 16 cents per minute for all phone calls. In 2021, the rate dropped from 16 cents to 14 cents per minute to comply with an order from the Federal Communications Commission.

ViaPath Technologies, a Reston, VA-based company, has been the MDOC’s prisoner phone provider since 2010.