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The older I get, the more I am convinced that America is a country in which the majority of its citizens are consumed by greed. We want more things than we need or could possibly use. We want things bigger, bolder, longer, wider, more expensive and for some of us, nothing can quell our desires. This seems to be particularly true in the business world. Certainly, I understand the importance, even the necessity, of making a profit. But making a profit, particularly exorbitant ones, on the backs of the least, the last and the lost is something that I cannot condone.

That’s why I can’t fathom why Congress won’t take up the cause led by Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) to amend the powers of the FCC so that they, under a revised Communications Act, would have the ability to put a cap on prison phone rates. At present, the FCC only has the authority to regulate calls between states, not within a state. Why should we care? If someone you love is currently behind bars, you can probably answer my question.

These so-called correctional facilities bargain with service providers seeking to secure the greatest percentage of the providers profits. To increase the profit margin, the U.S. facilities and the service carriers with whom they partner, charge prisoners rates that are ridiculously and unreasonably high. They pad their pockets on the backs of the inmates — men and women who are already paying a hefty price for their crimes — freedom. But the families also lose. I remember a dear friend spending about a year in jail — a year that I also felt like I was imprisoned — or maybe it was just my wallet that felt out of my grasp.

I don’t know if such a practice, unethical in my assessment, could be described as “cruel and unusual punishment,” but it sure comes close. It’s already hard enough when one must pay their dues behind bars — separated from their loved ones. But to make it cost prohibitive for them to have even an occasional telephone call — that’s simply too much.

Let’s just cite this as another example of Greed American Style.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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