To the editor:
In this week’s article, “Sheriff Coppinger concerned about free call costs,” Kevin Coppinger claims he needs to cover both the $1.5 million that Securus Technologies charges consumers annually for calls from incarcerated individuals, and $600,000/year in “site commissions,” or kickbacks to the sheriff. The sheriff is wrong on both counts.
The Legislature has already set aside money to pay for calls, so this expense won’t come out of Sheriff Coppinger’s budget. As for the $600,000, rather than having vulnerable families of incarcerated people pay, that funding will have to be provided through the sheriff’s budget, which comes from the Legislature.
Sheriff Coppinger has no obligation to allow Securus to gouge the county with high rates. Families are currently paying 14 cents/minute for calls. In Dallas County, Securus provides calls for 1.2 cents/minute. Calls in New Hampshire prisons are 1.3 cents/minute. It is Coppinger’s job to negotiate the best rate he can.
Sheriff Coppinger’s concerns are misplaced, and it is wrong that he is suggesting that he continue to overcharge those incarcerated and their families to stay connected.
Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin
Executive director of Essex County Community Organization