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亚利桑那州收“探监费” 一次25
Arizona charges people $25 to visit inmates

[ 2011-09-14 11:56]     字号 [] [] []  
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亚利桑那州收“探监费” 一次25

亚利桑那州收“探监费” 一次25

 Under a new state law, some adults who want to visit incarcerated inmates must pay the fee, with the money raised going toward maintaining 10 state-run prisons.

PJ Longoni has shelled out hundreds of dollars to pay for toiletries, a television and legal fees for family and friends locked up in Arizona prisons. When she learned she’d have to pay a one-time $25 background check fee to visit her son, she was angry.

Under a new state law, some adults who want to visit incarcerated inmates must pay the fee, with the money raised going toward maintaining 10 state-run prisons.

“For me, it is not the $25 fee that is an issue,” she said. “It is when it is combined with the other costs of caring for an inmate, then it becomes a burden to me.”

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.

Hamm said her group could not find any law similar to Arizona’s in other states. The National Conference of State Legislatures and the Association of State Correctional Administrators do not track that data, the groups said.

It’s too early to tell whether the fee is having an impact on visitation, said Hamm and Barrett Marson, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.

Processing an application and the fee can take up to 60 days, and the $25 is non-refundable. Marson said about 30,000 people apply to visit state prison inmates each year. Visitors can be on one list to see an inmate only unless they have immediate family members who are incarcerated and also want to see them.

But charging a $25 one-time fee per visitor for background checks wouldn’t necessarily mean the state would generate $750,000 because the law provides some exceptions.

People who were approved for visitation prior to the law’s enactment are grandfathered in. Children under 18, inmates’ foster parents and those who want only for phone privileges are exempt. The original proposal in the state legislature called for everyone to pay.



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亚利桑那州收“探监费” 一次25

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