Photo: Arizona Prisons Now Charging $25 Fee For Those Visiting Inmates
The Arizona Department of Corrections is now charging $25 for each adult wishing to visit a friend or family member currently incarcerated in one of its 15 prisons.
The fee is being called a one-time “background check fee” but its critics have called it unconstitutional, as it is a special tax on a specific group.
David C. Fathi, director of the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union told the NY Times the new fee was “mind boggling” and said it will only serve to negatively impact both the community and the prisoners, who some say are able to reform themselves and their lives through the support from those who visit and stand behind them, those who likely cannot afford the fee.
“We know that one of the best things you can do if you want people to go straight and lead a law-abiding life when they get out of prison is to continue family contact while they’re in prison,” the NY Times quoted him as saying, adding, “Talk about penny-wise and pound-foolish.”
The fee is said to have been created to offset the cost of running the prisons and to shrink the $1.6 billion deficit Arizona faces.
Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of inmates’ families and prisoner rights groups.