Inmate phone calls

Inmates have access to telephones. This helps them maintain family and community ties. In this section you will find information about how an inmate makes phone calls and who they can communicate with.

First phone call

Within 24 hours of an inmate's arrival in federal custody they can make one phone call. This allows the inmate to inform family, friends or others what institution they are in.

Calling an inmate

An inmate has to call you using the Inmate Telephone System phone. You cannot call an inmate.

If there is an emergency, such as a death of a close relative, you can call the institution where the inmate resides. Ask to be connected to the duty correctional manager's desk to speak with an officer in charge and leave a message.

Institutional profiles page has phone numbers for all our institutions.

Inmate Telephone System (ITS)

Inmates make phone calls through the Inmate Telephone System (ITS). The ITS is used in all CSC institutions. Each institution has a schedule for when the telephone system is available for use.

Smart card and Personal Identification Number

Two means of identity verification allow inmates to place phone calls:

  • Personal Identification Number (PIN)
  • Smart card

Inmates are issued a PIN upon admission to CSC. The PIN remains with the inmate when they are transferred to other federal facilities.

A Smart card is a device the size of a credit card. It is used by inmates to activate the phone and link their ITS account with their personal authorized call list. The Smart card also allows the inmate to access money from their account to make phone calls.

An inmate will keep their Smart card if they are transferred to a different institution.

Inmates cannot lend their Smart card or PIN to another inmate to use. If this happens, disciplinary action may be taken.

Who an inmate can call

Before an inmate can call someone, the person and phone number must be added to the inmate's authorized call list. An inmate can have a maximum of 40 phone numbers on their authorized list. To add a number to their authorized phone list, the inmate must provide the name(s), phone numbers and street addresses to CSC for pre-approval. It can take up to 15 working days to create or add a number to the inmate's authorized call list. All information provided by inmates for the call list is confidential.

Common access telephone list

All institutions have a common access telephone list. This list contains numbers frequently called by inmates, such as volunteer organizations, legal offices, etc.

Paying for phone calls

Inmates pay for phone calls through the funds in their telephone account. They access the funds through their Smart card.

Inmates must add money to their Smart card before it will work. Collect calls can still be made using the Smart card if no funds are available.

An inmate's telephone account must have a minimum balance of $80. The balance cannot exceed $500. If the request exceeds the available funds, Finance will process any unpaid balance on the telephone account by withdrawal of funds from the inmate's institutional accounts.

The current phone rates are:

Current ITS calling rates (2018 to 2024)
Offender calling rates Debit (Direct Distance Dialed) Collect (Recipient Paid)
Local $0.475 per call/message Applicable CRTC approved tariffs for each telephone company
National $0.045 per minute $1.00 surcharge per call
$0.28 per minute
United States $0.05 per minute $1.00 surcharge per call
$0.60 per minute
International $0.06 per minute Applicable tariffs for each international telephone company

Note: The above rates do not include taxes, which are additional. The tax rate is based on the province where the institution is located.

Timeline for adding funds to a Smart card

CSC uploads funds to the Smart card at the end of each four-week period. The upload happens only once every four weeks and cards cannot be loaded at any other time.

If you are sending money to an institution for an inmate's phone card, please note that there is a 10 business day hold on all Canadian funds received, and 30 days on foreign (including US) funds.

If a card is lost or damaged the inmate will have to pay $5.00 to replace it.

Collect calls

Recipients of a collect call are able to pay for phone calls. A collect call is a call to an approved telephone number, where the total cost of the call is charged to the person that is called. Prior to connecting the call, an automated system will request acceptance of charges by the person who is accepting the call. Once the charges are accepted, the call is connected.

Frequency and duration

Inmates within regular population

Inmates can make phone calls depending on the individual operational routine of the institution. Each institution has a schedule for when the telephone system is available for use. In most cases, schedules begin at 8:00am until 10:45pm.

While there may be differences between some institutions, based on population size and security level, most sites have a one-hour time limit on phone calls. This helps ensure fair and equal access to phone calls.

Monitoring of phone calls

Calls between yourself and an inmate may be monitored.

Prevention of phone calls

An inmate can be prevented from communicating with members of the public by telephone if the institutional head believes that the:

  • safety of any person would be jeopardized
  • intended recipient of the communication does not want to receive communications from the inmate

If an inmate is prevented from communicating with someone, they must be advised of the reasons in writing. They must also be given an opportunity to respond.

Three-way calling

Three-way calling (i.e. call conferencing and call forwarding) is not allowed. If an inmate is involved in a three-way call, the call will be terminated immediately and they will face disciplinary and/or administrative action.

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