Starting on September 1st, Texas inmates will have their phone calls charged 6 cents per minute, instead of 26 cents per minute. Officials state this will better facilitate communication between inmates and their families.

According to Dallas News, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) board entered a new contract with longtime company CenturyLink. CenturyLink has been the Offender Telephone System in Texas for many years. The changes include extending the call cap to 30 minutes, reducing the charge from 26 cents to 6 cents per minute and installing video visitation at 12 units.

TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier stated, “The new OTS contract is going to benefit not only family of offenders who are hoping to stay connected but enhance the agency’s focus on re-entry… The system is used to maintain relationships with friends and family that are a vital part of a successful re-entry and reintegration of offenders into the community.”

Jennifer Erschabek, director of the Texas Inmate Families Association, welcomes the phone charge news. Ershabeck is also concerned about the extreme heat in many state prisons.

The vote came on the heels of New York City making all inmate calls free and the launch of the nationwide prison strike on August 21st.

The vote also contributed to a national conversation on how corporations and companies are benefiting from mass incarceration. For example, CenturyLink receives 60 percent of the charges from inmate calls. A percentage is given to the Texas Crime Victims Fund, and proceeds also go to the state’s general revenue fund.