Pubdate: Mon, 21 June 1999
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 1999 San Francisco Chronicle
Author: Tom O'Connell
Note: Original:


Editor -- The Chronicle has been performing a commendable public service in
pointing out abuses within California's massive system.

On June 14, you came through again, when your front page carried Deborah
Solomon's expose showing how telephone companies collude with the Department
of General Services to gouge prisoners and their families.

Your June 15 editorial points out that the 2,400 pay phones within
California's prisons produce nearly 2 1/2 times their share of the state's
pay telephone revenue.

One can only agree with you that this abuse of a captive market -- one
characterized by painful separation from family members, plus a high
incidence of both poverty and illiteracy -- is ``unfair, unacceptable and
bad public policy.''

I would also point out that many prisoners are serving their long sentences
because of ``three strikes'' and drug laws, which could be described in
exactly the same terms.

TOM O'CONNELL, M.D., San Mateo

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