Fighting for You: Jail Administrator Changes Inmate Phone Policy

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - We have an update to a story we reported about jail phone call charges. The story featured a woman who said the first phone call from her son locked up in the jail put $14.99 on her phone bill. Linda Myer didn't think that was right and wondered what happened to the free first phone call.

The man who oversees the Madison County Detention Center believes most free first phone calls from jail only exist in television shows and movies. Chief Steve Morrison acknowledged the almost $15 charge Myer accepted when answering her son's call from jail. The chief now wants to make a change.

The 'Fighting for You' stories are sometimes educational. Work on this one explained one thing about what inmates in Madison County are entitled to once they get booked into jail.

"They are not allowed a free phone call by statute. Rule 4.2 says they will have a phone without undue delay," said Chief Morrison.

Chief Morrison wasted no time busting the free first phone call from jail myth. Myer didn't know what to think when her son went to jail for six days.

"He tried to call home. He got about two seconds in and said, momma momma and that was it. It said if you want to make a phone call, you need to pay $14.99," said Myer.

The concerned mom emailed WHNT NEWS 19's Venton Blandin asking could he look into the charge. Venton Blandin did and found himself expressing the mom's curiosity to Chief Morrison.

"We appreciate the community bringing up different things because we only know if they contact us," added Chief Morrison.

The chief was not aware of the cost to talk 15 minutes from inside his jail. He and Sheriff Blake Dorning believe the inmate's family should not have to incur costs for their loved one's crime.

"We're setting up now, with Securus Inmate Telephone System, to re-engineer this end of it, so we can offer two-three minute phone calls for incoming inmates," added Chief Morrison.

An inmate's family member will start to pay for the call after the first few minutes.

"They have to subscribe to some type of plan to utilize the phones in the jail. The taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for their phone calls. They are in jail," added Chief Morrison.

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