Monday, September 12, 2011

Visitors to Arizona prisons hit with $25 fee�|�Truth Frequency News

Seems illegal to me and it's being challenged but so far, it stands.

A prison reform group sued the corrections department, saying the fee was arbitrary, unconstitutional and amounted to a tax on an already vulnerable segment of residents. Corrections officials say the fees will ensure inmates are safe.

Since the law went into effect July 20, there has been confusion, with potential visitors wondering whether they would have to pay and why a fee for a background check would go toward building repairs. Some worried that the fee would reduce the number of visitors, essentially eliminating the kinds of family contact with prisoners that could improve the chances for rehabilitation.

Plaintiff Donna Hamm said families are already under budget constraints and must pay for multiple members and travel to sometimes remote prisons to reach inmates.

“So in essence, if this policy results in delaying or diminishing or eliminating prison visitation for anyone, the state is shooting themselves in the foot in terms of rehabilitation,” Hamm said. “That’s a very short-sighted view of public safety policy.”

The Tempe, Ariz.-based Middle Ground Prison Reform filed the lawsuit last month seeking to have the fee declared a tax and any money paid so far returned to visitors.

Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan denied allegations that the fee actually is a tax on vulnerable groups and unconstitutional, according to court documents.

Visitors to Arizona prisons hit with $25 fees

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