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As I See It

Free phone calls a lifeline for inmates



Sometimes the little things can make a big difference. Supporters of those residing in the La Crosse County jail expect that will be the case with a recent decision by county government. The County Board of Supervisors has taken a big step by allowing jail inmates to use the jail telephone for free. La Crosse has had one of the state’s highest rates for using jail telephones, as much as $14 for a 15 minute phone call. Under legislation passed by the board this month, starting the first of the year, the cost of a phone call from jail inmates will go from 21 cents a minute to free. It is believed La Crosse is the first in Wisconsin to offer free use of the phone to jail inmates. The state is also considering capping the fees that local jails charge. But La Crosse didn’t just reduce the cost of making a call from behind bars, they eliminated it. Supporters say this will help not only those behind bars, but their family and friends on the outside. Most inmates who make calls call collect, forcing their loved ones to bear the cost. According to those who spoke in favor of the change, one in three families with an incarcerated loved one go into debt because of the cost of staying in touch. And experts say keeping in touch with loved ones helps inmates stay out of trouble when they are released. Kudos to La Crosse County for taking this bold step to help our most vulnerable.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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  1. Martha Linville

    November 30, 2022 at 6:58 am

    A great step forward!

  2. Flyboy46

    December 4, 2022 at 2:45 pm

    Sure wish we could get someone to pay our phone bill. Oh, wait a minute, we’re not in jail … and never have been! I will admit that I had a “run in” with the police 49 yrs. ago when I was 17 yrs. old and got a speeding ticket, but since then nothing.

    Evidently, we are just lucky enough to (again) pay for others with our tax dollars. Why not just give them free cell phones with unlimited minutes as is being done on the “secure” (yes, I’m being cynical) US southern border.

    Holy jail time Batman… This sure gets old! PAY, PAY, PAY (for others)

    • William Curry

      December 7, 2022 at 4:22 pm

      DC9 God, I’ve flown with FLYBOY46 and I agree completely!!!! The idea of ANYTHING FREE for criminals is asinine and then some!!!!

  3. Kent Porter

    December 12, 2022 at 10:15 am

    I have an idea , have the INMATES go down to HOUSKA PARK and clean up all the HEROIN and METH NEEDLES laying around , The inmates probley left 80% of them on the ground when they were dealing dope down there , Great Job Mayor Mithch Reynolds .!!!!!!!!!!!! Write In Kent Porter for Mayor I will fund the cops , clean up the HOMELESS and put hard working jail inmates to work !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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