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Congressional Letter to Acting General Counsel, Congress of the United States, 2017

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Febniary6, 2017
Mr. Brendan Carr
Acting General Counsel
Federal Comm1111ications
Commission
445 12th Street SW
\Vashlngton, DC 20554-0004
Mr. Carr:
We are writing to express our concerns regardir~ recent press reports that Chainnan Ajit Pai has
decided not to defend, in whole, tbc prison phJne rate order previously issued by the Federal
Communication Commission (FCC).
Chances for rehabilitation and successful reir,tegration into society are much greater when
millions of Americans who are currently incarceratedare allowed to majutain conununication
with their loved ones and support systems. Overpricedphone rates deter these communications
and cont.tibuteto incte..'We
d 1·ooidiviom.

For over tl1e past decade, we have urged the FCC to develop market-based solutions to curb
these prohibitively high rates (e.g., Family Telephone Connection Prot ection Act, first ina·oduced
in the l 09th Congress). As a result, we were encouraged when the rec issued its order to curb
the exorbitant prices imposed by a few private companies on incarcerated individuals and their
family members.
However, recent press accounts report that, since his recent appointment as FCC Chainnan by
President Donald Trump, Chairman Pai is "no longer pressing to cur the costs of most prison
phone calls, backing away from a years-long effort to limit charges imposed by a handful of
private companieson inmates and their families."'
Cbainuan Pai's sudden reversal raises serious questions about why the FCC is now choosing to
promote the IJoaocial interests of private sector telecommunications companies over those of
inmates and their families. His actions also raise questions about why be is now refusing to
defend an order that was officiallyadopted by the FCC.
To help answer these questions, we request that you provide the following documents and
information by Febrnary21, 2017:
1

FCC Made o Casefor LimitingCost of PrisonPhoneCalls. Nol Anp11m
·.t., Washington Pos.t(Feb. 5,
20 17)(online at hrrps://www.washi
ngtonpost.com/local/pubUc.-safety/foc
..made-a-case-for1imiting-cost-of-prison
pllooo-caIls•nOl-anymore/20I 7/02/04/9306!bf8-e97c- 11e6,b82f-687d6e6a3e7c_story.himI).

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Mr. BrendanCarr
Page2
1. A list of all previous cases in which the FCChas declined to defend one of its own orders
in whole or in part;
2. The legal j ustificationexplaining why the order will not be de/ended in whole; and

3. All internal or external communicationsfrom November 8, 2016, to the present to or
from Chairman Pai or anyone in bis office relating to whether to defend, in whole or in
part, the prison phone rate order.
Tiiank you for your attentionto this matter. \Ve look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

ms

Memberof Congress

Butterfield
e ber of Congress

~
e! rto~
Memberof Congress

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