Big Story 10

German court rules against overpricing phone calls for prisoners

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s constitutional court ruled on Tuesday against overpricing phone calls made by prison inmates, saying that disregarding the economic interests of prisoners violates their constitutional right to rehabilitation.

A detainee in a correctional facility in the northern state of Schleswig Holstein filed a lawsuit in July, 2015 against the prison for significantly increasing the costs of phone calls.

The Federal Constitutional Court in Tuesday’s ruling called on the institution to select private providers that offer phone service at fair market prices.

“Telecommunications services do not have to be made available to prisoners free of charge. However, prisoners should not be burdened with charges,” the ruling read.

The prisoner, in jail since 2014, had complained that the new tariff cost him 80 euros ($95) a month and that previously calls had been 50 percent cheaper.

Germany has around 64,000 people in prison, 0.07 percent of the population, according to latest government data.

Last year, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission decided to limit inmate phone call rates but set the cap at a higher level than it had proposed a year before.

($1 = 0.8420 euros)

Reporting by Riham Alkousaa, editing by Ed Osmond