Ideally, electronic messaging — which is often referred to as "email for prisoners" — should provide incarcerated people and their families a faster and more convenient way to communicate over extreme distances. But our January 2016 report finds that electronic messaging has very little in common with email services available to free-world users. Some electronic messaging systems only allow for inbound electronic communication, and, unlike mainstream email, sending messages costs anywhere from 5¢ to $1.25 per message.
But it's not too late to transform electronic messaging from a poorly designed and expensive technology to a fair and reasonable tool for communication. The Federal Communications Commission requested comments on advanced communication services in prisons and jails, and we've responded with our analysis of the current state of electronic messaging. The report addresses critical questions that range from how many companies provide electronic messaging in prisons and jails to what are some of the abusive terms of service that are common in this industry.