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New Policy Limits Phone Calls By Federal Prison Inmates


Federal prison inmates will be limited to 300 minutes of telephone calls per month under a new policy launched Monday by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which is hoping to crack down on abuse of phone privileges by some prisoners.

But critics say the new policy, which applies to more than 140,000 inmates in the federal prison system, will only further isolate criminals from family and friends, contributing to recidivism.

Previously, federal inmates could make unlimited telephone calls and pay for them from personal debit accounts, which include money earned in prison or sent by relatives. Each prisoner also was permitted 120 minutes per month in collect calls.

The new rules limit all telephone calls to 300 minutes per month, regardless of who pays the bill. The limit does not include calls made to defense attorneys or other legal advisers.

Traci Billingsley, a Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman, said that 75 percent of federal prisoners already use phones less than 300 minutes per month. Placing limits on the rest will help control attempts by some inmates to run drug rings or other criminal operations from prison, she said.

“There have been some instances in the past of inmates abusing the phones, using them for illegal or disruptive purposes,” Billingsley said.

Air Force General Could Get Joint Chief Chairman’s Job


Air Force Gen. Ralph “Ed” Eberhart, a Vietnam combat pilot who rose to be the nation’s top space warrior, has emerged as the leading candidate to be President Bush’s next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to senior military officials.

Eberhart, chief of both the U.S. Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad), has become the betting favorite among senior military commanders as the replacement for Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, who is expected to retire as the president’s top military adviser after his second term ends this summer.

Bush’s plan for a missile defense system for the United States, Canada and European allies needs an aggressive supporter in uniform, and Eberhart has emerged as an ardent supporter. While Shelton and chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force have backed the Bush program, they are against any deployment until a proven system is developed. A series of failures has undercut missile defense ambitions, as tracking, intercepting and destroying a single warhead has proved too difficult after more than a decade of testing.

As a result, missile defense has been on the back burner for the military chiefs, who view acquisitions of new jet fighters, bombers, warships and other weapons as more important to national security.