Mainline Wireless is an artistic performance created by artist Sidney Stretz, where actors posing as salesmen, advertise a fictitious phone service to passersby in public spaces. These salesmen attempt to recruit new clients by hosting a booth featuring advertising and information for the service plan, similar to those you would find in big box stores.
The absurdity of this extremely limited and not at all marketable “phone plan” aims to introduce the general public to the extreme disparity of costs incurred by family members trying to remain connected to their incarcerated loved ones. Financial barriers such as these can severely impact a family’s ability to support each other as they work to navigate the criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex.
According to Nerdwallet, the average monthly bill for a single line unlimited cell phone plan is $63.13. The average American adult spends about 86 hours or 5160 minutes per month using their smartphone, which includes text and web-browsing, in addition to phone calls. This would suggest that it costs Americans about 18 cents for a 15 minute phone call, whereas the highest cost for a 15 minute phone call from an inmate in a jail in North Carolina costs $12, a rate 6566 times higher.