Georgia will charge poor people $5 a month to get subsidized phone service, a move that one Republican regulator says will deter fraud. The state's Public Service Commission voted 3-2 on Tuesday to require that phone companies participating in the federal Lifeline program either collect the $5 fee or offer their customers at least 500 minutes of calling time.
Authorities say charges have been filed against a north Georgia woman and her teenage son who are accused of trying to provide prison inmates with cellphones. Police say they threw a bag of cell phones and chargers over a fence at the Augusta State Medical Prison in mid-May.
The Georgia Public Service Commission has voted to impose fees on cellphones being offered through the Lifeline program after it was targeted in widespread fraud and abuse allegations. The Lifeline program is intended to provide discounted cellphone service to low-income Georgians. The new rules call for a minimum $5 monthly fee for people receiving cellphones through the program.
Corrections commissioner Brian Owens sounded off Wednesday about an "epidemic" in illegal cellphones smuggled into Georgia's prisons. Owens told lawmakers that prison officials confiscated more than 8,500 phones in state prisons over the last 18 months.