California Prisons Begin Free Audio Calls for Incarcerated

By CN Staff

SACRAMENTO—Beginning Jan. 1. of this year, audio calls made from standard institution wall phones and tablets by an incarcerated person in a California state prison became free of charge to the incarcerated person and their friends and families. The change is in response to the passing of Senate Bill (SB) 1008, the Keep Families Connected Act.

“CDCR is fully committed to maintaining positive bonds between incarcerated people and their loved ones,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Macomber. “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.”

Other than institution-set hours of operations for calling times and the 15-minute per-call time limit, there is no cap on the number of free audio calls incarcerated people can make. Calls can be made domestic or internationally from the standard institutional wall phones, as well as tablets where available.

People receiving calls will still be notified prior to accepting the call that communication is coming from an incarcerated person and asking them to indicate whether they would like to accept the call. All calls will be recorded as usual.

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

People receiving calls will still need to have an active ConnectNetwork Advance Pay account with VPT. Those without an account and would like to set one up or those with existing funds in their account who would like a refund should call VPT customer service at (866) 607-6006.

Free audio calling is one of several ways incarcerated people can connect with their loved ones. The Department also offers ample opportunities for connection through in-person and video visits, letters, electronic messaging, and video and audio calls.