HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) — Connecticut became the first state this week to make all prison phone calls free, addressing one of the biggest emotional and financial burdens faced by incarcerated men and women and their families as they try to stay in touch.

The state has a prison contract with phone vendor Securus Technologies, which charges up to $5 for a 15-minute call. Those are some of the highest phone rates in the country.

The bill was signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday and could go into effect as early as next month, supporters said Friday. It allows incarcerated men, women and juveniles a minimum of 90 minutes a day of free calls.

“We’re on the right side of history,” said Democratic Rep. Josh Elliott, one of the supporters of the legislation. “Corporations can no longer be allowed to exploit the love between incarcerated people and their families — not in our state, not on our watch.”

Connecticut joins several jurisdictions nationwide that have taken steps to make prison and jail phone calls free, including New York City, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles.

“This historic legislation will change lives,” Bianca Tylek, executive director of Worth Rises, which has been working with local advocates, many of whom were directly impacted, to slash prison phone costs. “It will keep food on the table for struggling families, children in contact with their parents, and our communities safer.”

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