Advisory For: Thursday, April 16, 2020

Contact: Melissa McCleery, [email protected], 484-201-3778

THURS at 3 p.m. EST: FCC Commissioners, Disconnected Families Push for Free Prison Phone Calls, Communications Assistance in COVID-19 Response

Federal Communications Commission Urged to Act, Following Bureau of Prisons Action, to Increase Free Calls So Incarcerated Families Can Stay Connected Through Pandemic

On Thursday, April 16, at 3 p.m. eastern, MediaJustice is hosting FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks, disconnected family members and over a dozen organizational allies for the hour-long #Right2Connect Virtual Townhall to discuss actions that the Federal Communications Commission must take now to keep families connected through the COVID-19 crisis. At a time where affordable access to phone and video calls could save lives, the FCC has not acted to remove cost as a barrier to phone and internet services for justice-involved and lower-income families.

Register to attend here:

MediaJustice and a half-dozen other organizations successfully pushed for the Bureau of Prisons to make video visitation and telephone calls free during the COVID-19 emergency, now authorized by Congress in the latest stimulus (CARES Act). The Bureau of Prisons released a modified operations plan in response to COVID-19, eliminating social visits and replacing them by increasing the monthly allotment of free phone call minutes each individual incarcerated in a federal prison receives, from 300 minutes/month to 500 minutes/month. 

Said Steven Renderos, executive director of MediaJustice:

“It is unconscionable that thousands of families cannot call their loved ones during this pandemic because of an inability to pay. The access we have is not the access we need and COVID-19 has exposed injustices that the Federal Communications Commission has shamefully neglected to solve for years. Congress, Attorney General Barr, and the Bureau of Prisons have all taken action to facilitate communication between justice-involved families, and now the FCC needs to use their authority to close the gap for families with an incarcerated loved one and others who cannot afford potentially life-saving phone and internet services.”

WHAT: The #Right2Connect Virtual Townhall to connect inadequate communications access to the impact on families, who remain disconnected through the COVID-19 public health crisis, and call for immediate action by the Federal Communications Commission, Congress and telecommunications companies.

View the petition here


FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks

Impacted leaders including:

Wandjell Reneice, prison phone justice advocate

Leonard J. Edwards, Bread for the City advocate and Lifeline subscriber

Lillian Williams, prison phone justice advocate and Lifeline subscriber

James King, state campaigner, Ella Baker Center

Organizational Advocates including:

Steven Renderos, executive director, MediaJustice

Loris Taylor, executive director, Native Public Media

Angela Siefer, executive director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance

Cheryl Leanza, policy advisor, United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry, OC Inc.

Carmen Scurato, senior policy counsel, Free Press, Free Press Action

WHEN: Thursday, April 16th, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST

Register to attend here:

For Interviews and questions: Melissa McCleery, [email protected], 484-201-3778

Advocates participating in and contributing to #Right2Connect Virtual Townhall include: The United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc.; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Black Alliance for Just Immigration; Free Press Action; Access Now; National Consumer Law Center; Common Cause; Open Tech Institute; Color of Change; Dignity & Power Now; and Worth Rises.


MediaJustice is dedicated to building a grassroots movement for a more just and participatory media—fighting for racial, economic, and gender justice in a digital age. MediaJustice boldly advances communication rights, access, and power for communities harmed by persistent dehumanization, discrimination and disadvantage. Home of the #MediaJusticeNetwork, we envision a future where everyone is connected, represented, and free.


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