Everyone has heard about Google and all of its incredible innovations. Specifically, there has been a lot of excitement around their Google Voice app that allows users to obtain a phone number for “free.” A quick internet search yields plenty of evidence of the rumors regarding the usefulness of this app related to calling – or receiving calls from – inmates for free. Let’s take a closer look at Google Voice and find out the truth.
How to Use Google Voice for Inmate Calls
Google Voice allows you to register for free and choose any phone number you want. Once set up, the system forwards incoming calls from the Google Voice number to an existing phone number – your cell phone or landline. Many people who are looking for ways to reduce the cost of their inmate’s calls attempt to find and select a number within the same area code as the inmate’s facility – thus processing the call as “local.”
It sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, let’s take a look at the facts. Does it actually work?
FCC Prison Calls Regulation
Correctional institutions – including prisons, jails and transitional centers – typically have special restricted telephone systems that the inmates use to call family members, friends, etc. These institutions have specific phone calling rules and regulations designed to allow inmates to call only permitted phone numbers, and only under certain conditions controlled by the institution.
Typically, the cost of these calls is paid by the inmate’s family through an inmate’s commissary or telephone account, or the inmate must make collect calls. In an effort to reduce inmate calling costs, many friends and family members have turned to Google Voice for a less expensive solution.
However, because the inmate’s ability to make calls from the correctional institution is regulated by the institution and their calling rules, the phone system is likely set up to automatically block the inmate from calling your Google Voice number. Be aware that Google itself doesn’t block anyone from calling you, but it is impossible to receive collect calls through a Google Voice number.
Here is the quote from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, “Inmate Telephone Regulations.”
“Note that Federal and most state prisons prohibit, detect and block inmate phone calls made to forwarded phone numbers, to prevent abusive calls or illegal activity by inmates. Google Voice uses call-forwarding to reach your phone. Violation of these prison regulations can result in loss of inmate calling privileges. Be smart. Don’t do it.”
Now that sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? In reality though, it just won’t work in most cases, keeping you from finding yourself in a bad situation. Click the picture below for an example of this:
Reasons That Google Voice Won’t Work for Prison Calls:
- Google Voice cannot receive collect calls or pay for the calling party’s phone call charges. The money you added to your Google Voice account can only be used by you, the caller, to make international long distance calls.
- Google is not involved with the correctional institution’s telephone systems or their rules, and it cannot offer any assistance with these calls.
- Google Voice and other VoIP systems cannot receive even standard collect calls, much less from those who are calling from prison.
- You still have to deal with the inmate telephone provider (Securus, Global Tel Link, IC Solutions or other similar companies).
So, what can friends and families of inmates do? Is there a true solution to avoiding expensive rates from the prison phone providers? The good news is, yes! PrisonConnect is safer than Google Voice and costs only $4.99/month!!
How Does PrisonConnect Save Money on Inmate Calls?
When you sign up for PrisonConnect, you are given a number that is local to your inmate’s facility. However, it is illegal for PrisonConnect calls to be blocked. Why? Because PrisonConnect is a registered Telephone Company that is FCC regulated. Any attempt to block the PrisonConnect number is absolutely prohibited by the FCC, and violates the FCC’s own rules and regulations!
How Do I Get Started With PrisonConnect?
With PrisonConnect, you are talking at local rates, preventing the phone provider from charging you outrageous long-distance prices. Once you sign up, you’ll need to give the PrisonConnect number to your inmate and ask him to add this number to the approved phone numbers list. Once the number is added into the system, your inmate can dial this number and the call will be redirected to your cell phone or landline.
Assuming the facility does not unlawfully block the PrisonConnect number, this is much cheaper and permissible alternative to the ridiculous fees charged by the prisons. You can save as much as $20.00 to $30.00 per call!