Elko County charges state’s highest rate for inmate phone calls, report finds

why does it cost anything
(Prison Policy Initiative)
why does it cost anything
(Prison Policy Initiative)

It costs jail inmates in Elko County $14.25 to make a 15 minute in-state phone call, which is the most expensive rate in Nevada, according to a new report from the Prison Policy Initiative. 

The organization, which conducts research on criminalization and incarceration rates, recently released a comprehensive overview. The group only reported rates in detention centers in each county, and not the costs of calls state penal institutions. 

High fees for calls can be “disastrous for people incarcerated in local jails” especially when the “vast majority are being held pretrial and many will remain behind bars unless they can make bail,” the study found.

In previous reports, the organization estimated of the 612,000 people in local jails across the country, 462,000 have yet to be convicted.

Charging pretrial defendants high prices for phone calls punishes people who are legally innocent, drives up costs for their appointed counsel, and makes it harder for them to contact family members and others who might help them post bail or build their defense,” the group said. 

Nevada’s phone call costs are lower than the national average. At $24.82, Arkansas has the highest 15 minute rate while North Dakota has the lowest at $12. 

Overall, Nevada’s rate has decreased 34 percent in costs of 15 minute calls since 2008. 

According to the report, the City of Las Vegas Detention Center costs 25 cents, or $3.75 for 15 minutes, and the Clark County Detention Center costs 21 cents per minute, or $3.15 per minute — both locations use ICSolutions and CenturyLink as providers. 

That’s compared to 95 cents per minute in Elko, which uses Legacy Inmate Communications. 

The report also tracked the differences between the first minute and following minutes. 

Lincoln County Jail, which uses Securus as the provider, has the highest first minute rate at $2.04 followed by 54 cents per minute afterward. Its average 15-minute phone call is $9.60. 

At the Henderson Detention Center, which also uses Securus, it costs $1.87 for the first minute then 37 cents each additional minute. The average 15-minute phone call is $7.65.

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.

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