Originally Published February 3rd, 2020
So you’re waiting for a loved one in jail to call you at home. Then you decided to take a shower at around the same time the phone rang. Poof. There goes your opportunity of talking to your loved one for that day. And the waiting game resumes.
But did you know you can receive calls from jail on your mobile phone? Yes, you can talk to your incarcerated loved ones without being tied location wise. (Related: How Calling Inmates Can Change Their Lives)
The best part is there are now jail calling apps that can improve your inmate calling experience.
Out of all the jail calling apps out there, which is the best? We won’t recommend a specific app. Instead, we’ll give you information about what to look for in a jail calling app for you to make an informed decision. Read on to learn more.
HOW JAIL CALLS WORK
Most federal, state and county jails have contracts with private jail call providers. These contracts grant them exclusive rights to provide jail calls within the prison facility. It includes providing telephone infrastructures and installing security systems for those calls.
This arrangement does not only benefit the jail call providers but the facility as well. They get more sophisticated call monitoring and security systems without shedding a dime. Plus, those jail call companies pay them a commission in exchange for the privilege.
Between the monopoly and the commission, it’s not surprising that jail calls are way too overpriced. The FCC even reports that inmates pay up to $17 for a 15-minute call.
Even though rules for inmate calls vary for each facility, they have things in common too. Expensive jail calls for one. Another is that you can’t call an inmate but can only receive calls from them. They can either pay for their own calls or call you collect. (Related: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Inmate Calls)
Most jails also put a limit on how long and how often an inmate can call in a day or in a month. Federal prisoners have up to 300 minutes of calls which resets each month. Each call can only last up to 15 minutes too.
Inmates also need to register the number they wish to call before they can contact them. Prison staff will check if the owners of those numbers will want to speak with the inmate. Most prisons usually allow up to 15-25 numbers registered for each inmate.
You’d also want to refrain from discussing private matters during the call as they are recorded and closely monitored. This is to prevent making illegal deals over the phone. Calls to attorneys are, however, exempted as long as the number gets cleared beforehand.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN INMATE CALL APP
Choosing an inmate call app can be difficult given the overwhelming number of choices. So, we’ll help you narrow down your choices with these three factors that you should look for in a jail calling app:
As with other apps, you should look for user-friendly features. You must be able to navigate the interface without feeling like pulling your hair out or throwing your phone against the wall.
Make sure that you’re receiving calls from jail at the cheapest rate possible. Compare prices of jail calls between apps. Sometimes the rate they’ll give you are just the basic charges and the other costs are hidden in fine prints. So be careful with that.
Nothing makes you decide to download an app faster than raving reviews from other app users. Whether you’re downloading it from the Playstore or Appstore, you just need to scroll downwards to see reviews for each app.
HOW TO SAVE ON JAIL CALLS
Inmate calling rates are determined by a variety of factors. One of them is how far you are from the facility where the call is being made.
In federal prisons, local jail calls cost only up to $0.06 per minute. This refers to calls made within the state. For out-of-state calls, this can go up to $0.25 per minute. International calls are much more expensive at $0.99 a minute. Rates vary for state and county jails but follow the same principle. Some would even charge a per minute rate of up to $5 for international calls.
If you are living in a different state or a different country from where your loved one is incarcerated, it can be really tough. You can’t visit them as often as you’d like. Talking to them frequently can also put a big dent on your bank account. You’ll be spending $297 a month at most if you decide to use up all their 300-minute allowance.
But what if I tell you that there’s a way around this?
All you have to do is use a local number. That way, you’ll enjoy local jail call rates wherever you are in the world.
So how do you go about it?
Companies like GlobalTel offer cheap jail call services all around the country. They provide you with a local phone number that the inmate can call. Their calls will then be routed to your intrastate or international phone number. These companies also have a calling app which you can use to receive calls from jail.
Did you like this post about the best inmate call app? Check more helpful articles on our blog.
REDUCE YOUR JAIL CALL COSTS BY 90%
GlobalTel’s inmate calling service lowers jail call rates by 90% for jail calls to US facilities. Sign up for our service to eliminate the long distance jail call fees for $45.99 for 90 days. Make US/domestic and international jail calls at the local rate and stay connected to your incarcerated loved ones for less. Learn more about how to sign up for calls from inmates on our website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the power of sharing knowledge. Having extensive experience in the prison industry, she wants to share what she knows with the world. Judy also loves to write about political and legal topics.