The Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) opened an investigation to consider the consumer complaints filed in response to the planned $2 per call to be applied to collect local calls from inmates in the State of Alaska correctional facilities. 

On July 31, 2008, the Department of Corrections (DOC) announced that effective September 1, 2008, it would implement the $2 per call fee to be applied to collect local prison calls placed by inmates in Alaska correctional facilities.  The fee would apply to “all successful local calls” from inmates, excluding calls from telephones located in booking areas of intake facilities, calls to public defenders and calls to the Office of Public Advocacy.  The letter further stated that this commission had approved the $2 fee and that it was “part of the current contract between the State of Alaska and Securus Technologies”.

Shortly after DOC’s announcement, the RCA received informal complaints regarding the $2 fee. The complaints relate to the $2 fees that will be incurred by bail bondsman companies, ankle monitoring companies, and attorneys. 

The RCA prohibited Evercom from charging the $2 fee on its own behalf but allowed billing $2 fee on behalf of GCI unless directed by the RCA.  The RCA believes that doubt exists as to the reasonableness of the $2 Collect Local Prison Call rate found in GCI’s local tariff, and therefore it may be appropriate to make the rate interim and refundable pending resolution of issues in this proceeding.  Consequently, the RCA scheduled a hearing where GCI will be afforded the opportunity to demonstrate why the rate should not be made interim and refundable. 

While the RCA does not intend to become involved in issues within the purview of the DOC related to the day-to-day operation of correctional facilities, the main concern is to ensure compliance by with the state public utility statutes and regulations, including requirements that: 

(a) rates shall be just and reasonable;
(b) a public utility files a complete tariff showing all rates, including joint rates, tolls, rentals and charges collected;
(c) a public utility files every special contract;
(d) a public utility “may not, as to rates, grant an unreasonable preference or advantage to any of its customers or subject a customer to an unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage; and
(e) a public utility may not operate or receive compensation for utility service without first obtaining from the commission a certification. 

A public hearing on this matter will convene at 9 a.m. on September 11, 2008.

Date Issued: 8/30/2008