By Richard McDonald
You can make phone calls while in prison. People in prison may use telephones to make calls to people on their authorized call list. The phone is available to use most of the day. The only times you can’t use the phone is during count time or when you are working.
Are your phone calls monitored while you’re in prison?
Yes. Prison officials monitor and record everyone’s calls. If you follow the rules, officials will most likely not pay too much attention to your calls. Three-way calling, along with the use of a speakerphone, for example, is against the rules.
The BOP is strict about enforcing telephone policies. They will suspend your privileges if you break the rules. A rule that prisoners break often is putting another prisoner’s family on your list. If you let them call on your phone using your minutes, you will get in trouble. They will give you a shot.
A shot is a disciplinary action against you that goes on your record. A shot can cost you opportunities. It’s not only about suspending phone privileges. It can get a lot worse. I cannot stress enough the importance of following phone rules.
Are you able to call anyone from prison? Can you make unlimited calls?
No. You may call any approved number on your list. You may have to wait in line. Do not cut in line. You’ll get a bad reputation if you do. You need to have patience.
The phone room can get crowded at times. Other prisoners may be loud. They may curse. They may talk about things that make you uncomfortable.
You also have to take precautions against germs. Many prisoners use the phone by putting a sock over their hand. This is prison life. You need to manage your expectations.
Phone calls have a limit of 15 minutes per call. Afterward, if you wish to make another call, you must wait 30 minutes before returning to the line. Once you learn the peak times, you can adjust your schedule to avoid them.
Before COVID, people in prison had a limit of 300 minutes of calls per month. Phone calls cost .23 per minute before COVID. Because of COVID, phone calls do not have a cost. Incarcerated people also receive 500 minutes per month to use. This is to make up for limited visitation during the pandemic.
Can you call your attorney from prison?
Yes. As with visitation, your attorney can arrange privileged telephone calls. Your unit team will arrange calls with your attorney. These calls will not generally be subject to BOP monitoring (but that’s not always the case). These calls can occur at whatever time the attorney arranges.
The BOP has the right to deny the privilege of phone calls. Try to work with your unit team to schedule these calls only when it’s important.
You can make phone calls while incarcerated. Anyone you call must be on your list of approved contacts. You will have a monthly limit of phone call minutes. In some cases, using the phone will have a per-minute cost. Calls are recorded and monitored.