VICTORY: SAN FRANCISCO MAKES JAIL PHONE CALLS FREE AND ELIMINATES JAIL COMMISSARY MARKUPS

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today, after months of discussions with Worth Rises and our local partners, Mayor London Breed and Sheriff Vicki Hennessy announced that San Francisco will become the first county in the nation to make all phone calls from jail free and end all markups on jail store items. The Mayor’s budget, released on June 1, reflected her decision to make phone calls free, explaining that “communication between incarcerated people and their loved ones can increase safety within jails, decrease recidivism, and improve reentry outcomes.”

Bianca Tylek, executive director of Worth Rises, was thrilled by the announcement: “This is another historic victory for prison phone justice and criminal justice advocacy. Annually, people in San Francisco’s jails and their support networks spend more than $1.1 million on phone calls to stay connected, roughly $600,000 of which the city collects in commissions, and another $644,000 in markups on commissary products pocketed by the city. But the end is in sight.

“For far too long, corporations and corrections departments alike have profited off of incarcerated people and their families, often communities of color and poverty who can least afford it. San Francisco has finally recognized that keeping people behind bars connected to their families and support systems is an unalloyed good. Today’s announcement marks another step for San Francisco in ending the use of the criminal legal system as a tool to extract wealth from its most economically distressed communities.

“We are honored to have worked alongside incredible local advocates, including many directly impacted people and the San Francisco Treasurer’s Financial Justice Project, in this fight. We congratulate the community on this major win.

“San Francisco realized that ending exploitation and encouraging communication is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. We challenge other cities, municipalities, and states to follow suit.” 

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Worth Rises is a national advocacy organization dedicated to dismantling the prison industrial complex and eliminating the exploitation of those it touches.