Arizona To Charge People To See Incarcerated Family or Friends

The Arizona legislature has passed legislation that will now allow prisons to charge $25 for people to visit their family and friends in prison. It is a remarkably cruel law since many of these visitors are coming from low income families and have to travel great distances. Yet, legislators are pointing out that they originally wanted to charge babies and children as well but decided to be nice guys.

The fee is being justified as a one-time “background check fee” for visitors, but staffers admit that it is an effort to increase revenue at the expense of these families. Wendy Baldo, chief of staff for the Arizona Senate, confirmed that they “were trying to cut the budget and think of ways that could help get some services for the Department of Corrections.”

Prison visitation has an extremely positive impact on inmates both psychologically and socially. It maintains and strengthens family bonds that will be needed to keep them from recidivism and can weaken the hold of gangs and other bad influences. Now the state is going to tell tell families on assistance that in order to see their loved ones, each adult will have to fork over $25. The article below also details how people have had difficulty paying the fee in advance. Visiting a loved one can be a terribly traumatic experience for a family. Yet, Arizona will now be there to get its cut.

As someone who has worked in prisons for decades, I find this absolutely appalling. From the beginning of correctional systems, the one right that virtually all societies have afforded inmates has been visitation. To now charge for the right to visit is gratuitous and cruel.

Source: NY Times

53 thoughts on “Arizona To Charge People To See Incarcerated Family or Friends”

  1. Well, each prison has its own rules about how many visits each prisoner is allowed, and how and when those visits can happen. Before you can visit any prison, you need a document called a ‘visiting order’. This should be sent to you by the person you’re planning to visit.

  2. Speaking as someone who has a husband who has been sentenced to another 12 years in the state of Texas for a ‘actual physical control of a vehicle’ DWI in a vehicle that was sitting in a parking lot and belonged to someone else who was standing right there in the same parking lot! Unbelievable but true! I find this new law deplorable and wonder how long before Texas decides to implement it. They already expect family’s to foot all the bills and jump through hoops for a 2 hour visit on a phone through a piece of glass!

  3. Hey Profe

    You were just credited with writing about this issue on “The Young Turks” show.

  4. So the law will also take 1% of all deposits to prisoners’ spending accounts. I guess the Republicans have finally found a tax they can get behind…

  5. The Arizona legislature is putting the state prisons in news reports once more. The Arizona government would like to use jail visits as ATMs. The prison visitor fee will go towards the maintenance fund for the jails. This is despite the fact that the charge is being called a background check. The families of inmates will need installment loans just to visit their families in jail.

  6. Nightsky1, September 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I love it! Make all the shitbag family members pay to visit their shitbag criminal family members. Perfect!
    I also love hearing all you bleeding-heart shitbag libs whining about it. Get a life..
    hmmmmmmmmmmm….., for you;

  7. a saying my mother and grandmother always said as we were growing up. The poor want to be middle class
    The middle class want to be rich
    The rich want to be GODS!!!

    Sound familiar? check into the rockefellers,rothchilds, royal family of england, bushes,kennedys, jp morganchase, duponts ,bloomberg and others

  8. I rather suspect that these “background checks” on visitors will be directly or indirectly performed by a private company. (Not to say that such a company will actually DO anything, but there will be a state contract and checks will be written to them and deposited.) I’m pretty sure that whoever gets that contract will have an interesting history of bribes, er, I mean “campaign and PAC contributions.”

    Mike Spindell
    1, September 5, 2011 at 11:31 am
    I last drove through Arizona in the early 70′s. At the time back in NY TV was full of commercials selling land sites, at cheap rates in new communities. Out of curiosity I drove past a few and found ugly, desert scrub land and large road sign proclaiming this or that new community.

    I wonder what percentage of the population of Arizona comes from that self-selecting group of people who “bit” on these sorts of offers?

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