A billboard on I-91 in West Haven over the summer of 2021 calling on Gov. Ned Lamont to make phone calls free at correctional facilities across the state. Kelan Lyons / CTMNirror

This is the first Christmas that Connecticut prisoners will be able to make and receive phone calls for free. The state was the first in the nation to stop charging for prisoner calls.

“If you are locked up in a local jail you are probably paying about $3 for a 15-minute phone call,” said Wanda Bertram of the Prison Policy Initiative, a national advocacy group campaigning against the high charges by private providers for phone calls from prisons and jails.

“That does not sound like a lot, but over the period that someone is locked up in jail, those costs really add up, and plenty of families go into debt,” Bertram said.

But that is no longer the case in Connecticut because of a law that took effect last summer.

“Every mother should hear from their son on Christmas. And every son should have the opportunity to call their mother on Christmas,” said Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport. As co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, he helped pass the law.

“And this legislation ensured that is possible for every family in Connecticut regardless of their financial means,” Stafstrom said.

The only other state in the country that has approved free prison calls is California.

This story was originally published Dec, 21, 2022, by WSHU.org.