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Woman needed help contacting her incarcerated son

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -The Virginia Department of Corrections contracts with just one telephone service to operate the secure Offender Telephone system. That one company was causing big problems.

A dying woman called 12 for help sorting through those problems and hearing her son's voice.   

It's a rare request, but one that means the world to Deborah Hanchey. Deborah is in hospice care. After weeks of trying to solve the problem herself without success, she called 12. We were able to help grant her dying wish.

Deborah Hanchey is in hospice care at home and desperately wants a call from her oldest son. Lee is in Mecklenburg Correctional Center, and until recently, the two communicated every day. 

"I just want to hear my son's voice before I die," Deborah said.

Calls from her son that previously went through Global Tel* Link, the company servicing Virginia inmates are blocked. There weeks she called, she says, and couldn't get answers.

"I want to know why my son hasn't called me. My son has not been able to call me. I sent in a copy of my phone bill and paid $25 for him to call me," said Deborah.

And when she did get someone on the line, Deborah says it didn't help.

"I said ‘I wanna speak to your supervisor,' and he just hung up on me," Deborah said. "It's like they're a number and they are not a person anymore. They are. That's my son."

I contacted the Virginia Department of Corrections. DOC had compassion. It immediately contacted the phone service, arranged for Deborah to speak to Global Tel* Link, which set up a phone account until Deborah's problem is investigated. Also, while we were there, Lee called home.

"I'm just so grateful. So wonderful to hear your voice," Deborah said to her son.

"Tell everybody thank you for making it possible for me to talk to you," Lee said over the phone. "It takes a big weight off my shoulders too, just knowing that you're still there."

Global Tel* Link did not return a call, but, it did issue a statement. It says it cannot locate Deborah's payment, but it will continue to make sure she receives calls from her son, and it will make sure she understands all the information that's needed to post payments to her account.

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