Prison Phones Fund Victims Assistance

Victims of crime and the state of Texas will both benefit from every single phone call now placed by a local prison inmate.

The Offender Telephone System is still in it's infancy, in fact the Neal Unit in Potter County is one of the first prison's in the state to get it.

But in just a few months, tens of thousands of dollars have already been raised for people in need.

Texas is one of the last states to allow prison inmates the freedom to make approved phone calls from right near their cells.

"They took the extra measures to actually make the system work and to work well," said Neal Unit Warden Charles McDuffie.

In order to get that efficiency, millions of dollars were spent. But not a single one was from the taxpayers.

"The state is not spending any money, but the vendor is spending 20, 25 million dollars," said Wendall Stewart, the project manager for the entire phone system throughout Texas.

But these private companies who install the phones and technology aren't keeping all the profits.

"It also has the potential to generate millions of dollars for the crime victims compensation fund," said Michelle Lyons, the Director of Public Information for the TDCJ.

Up to 10 million dollars, any money raised from the phone system after that is split between the victims compensation fund and the Texas state general fund.

"In the three or four months that the phone system has been up and running it's already generated 53 thousand dollars for crime victims," said Lyons

And there's a legitimate hope that will grow.

It cost about 25 cents a minute for an in-state call and 40 cents a minute for an out of state call.

And there are 80 more prisons waiting to get the phone system.

We found out today that the Clements Unit is expected to be up and running next week.