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Prisoners Become Lucrative Market For Bankers

Forget the ever-diminishing middle class, banksters have found a new target – prisoners. According to the Center For Public Integrity, prison bankers are collecting tens of millions of dollars in fees each year from inmate’s families for providing basic financial services. It turns out desperate family members trying to get money to imprisoned loved ones are very compliant customers.

Private banking companies are now getting prison contracts to handle financial deposits for inmates and are charging depositors ruinous fees. In order to process fund transfers from family members to inmates the banks often charge 35-45%. Families that need to get cash to inmates quickly have no choice but to pay.

Inmates need money for basic necessities including food, electricity and toilet paper in some states. Given that inmates are often paid well below minimum wage for their prison jobs they need that money from their families. These fees not only hurt the inmates by getting less funds but put strain on families, especially poor families who have already lost the income that may have come if the imprisoned family member was working.

JPay and other prison bankers collect tens of millions of dollars every year from inmates’ families in fees for basic financial services. To make payments, some forego medical care, skip utility bills and limit contact with their imprisoned relatives, the Center for Public Integrity found in a six-month investigation.

Inmates earn as little as 12 cents per hour in many places, wages that have not increased for decades. The prices they pay for goods to meet their basic needs continue to increase. By erecting a virtual tollbooth at the prison gate, JPay has become a critical financial conduit for an opaque constellation of vendors that profit from millions of poor families with incarcerated loved ones.

As if the US prison system was not doing enough to cause cycles of poverty now they are helping exploit the families of the incarcerated. Then again, it might ensure future customers. Think of what those desperate family members might have to do to get enough money to pay the fees.

Just when you thought the prison-industrial complex could not get any more depraved and despicable a new way to ruin people’s lives is brought to fruition by the forces of savage capitalism.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Prisoners Become Lucrative Market For Bankers

Forget the ever-diminishing middle class, banksters have found a new target – prisoners. According to the Center For Public Integrity, prison bankers are collecting tens of millions of dollars in fees each year from inmate’s families for providing basic financial services. It turns out desperate family members trying to get money to imprisoned loved ones are very compliant customers.

Private banking companies are now getting prison contracts to handle financial deposits for inmates and are charging depositors ruinous fees. In order to process fund transfers from family members to inmates the banks often charge 35-45%. Families that need to get cash to inmates quickly have no choice but to pay.

Inmates need money for basic necessities including food, electricity and toilet paper in some states. Given that inmates are often paid well below minimum wage for their prison jobs they need that money from their families. These fees not only hurt the inmates by getting less funds but put strain on families, especially poor families who have already lost the income that may have come if the imprisoned family member was working.

JPay and other prison bankers collect tens of millions of dollars every year from inmates’ families in fees for basic financial services. To make payments, some forego medical care, skip utility bills and limit contact with their imprisoned relatives, the Center for Public Integrity found in a six-month investigation.

Inmates earn as little as 12 cents per hour in many places, wages that have not increased for decades. The prices they pay for goods to meet their basic needs continue to increase. By erecting a virtual tollbooth at the prison gate, JPay has become a critical financial conduit for an opaque constellation of vendors that profit from millions of poor families with incarcerated loved ones.

As if the US prison system was not doing enough to cause cycles of poverty now they are helping exploit the families of the incarcerated. Then again, it might ensure future customers. Think of what those desperate family members might have to do to get enough money to pay the fees.

Just when you thought the prison-industrial complex could not get any more depraved and despicable a new way to ruin people’s lives is brought to fruition by the forces of savage capitalism.

Photo from Bureau of Prisons under public domain.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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