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Inmates, Families Boycott High Phone Rates

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Today, inmates around New York State will pick up the phone to call their families - collect, as always. But this time, families will refuse to accept the charges. It's a one-day boycott to protest the high rates charged by the phone company MCI. MCI has had an exclusive contract to provide phone service for inmates since 1999. Rates for the prisoners' collect calls are more than six times higher than regular consumer rates. Inmates can only call collect, and the charges add up for families on the other end. Advocates say that these high rates threaten inmates' family ties - a crucial bulwark against recidivism. They're also critical of the contract deal. MCI gives over half the profits to the state. Advocates call that a kickback scheme. But the contract is set to expire at the end of March, and the State Senate appears set to make a change. Gregory Warner reports.

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