Inmates store millions in accounts with little oversight: Report | News of coronavirus pandemic

The United States Bureau of Prison (BOP) allows inmates to keep large sums of money – in some cases up to $ 200,000 – in government-run accounts that do little scrutiny and are protected by most court orders, according to a report published by the Washington Post on Wednesday.

There are “more than 20 detainee accounts holding more than $ 100,000 each for a total of more than” $ 3 million, a person with knowledge of the accounts who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Post. .

These accounts effectively allow detainees to exploit alimony, alimony and other debts to which they are subject.

“Detainees use this banking system to steal this money,” said Jason Wojdylo, a recent retiree from the United States Marshal Service, he told the Post.

A convicted inmate is being held outside his Eastern Bloc cell in death row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California, after local and federal prosecutors reported that 133 detainees were in death row were named in fraudulent unemployment claims in 2016 [File: Eric Risberg/AP Photo]

He said the funds are not subject to U.S. Treasury oversight and the BOP rarely imposes a law passed by Congress that requires criminals to pay their debts.

Wojdylo said he spent years without success in convincing BOP for change his position before retiring.


Many inmates of poor origin and most detainees earn little or no money in prisons. Prison work programs pay the detainees at least $ 0.20 per hour for work and above about $ 5.

Detainees can use the funds to buy goods from a prison commissioner, or to make phone calls, the cost of which is capped at $ 0.21 per minute, and send e-mails, even if the prison system has been criticized for the cost of communication services.

So, most of the accounts have little money in them.

However, detainees can be charged with paying restitution when convicted. These can range from sums of a few thousand to hundreds of thousands – and even millions – of dollars.

Given that reality, detainees are required to pay little, a minimal amount, for restitution. The minimum is about $ 25 a month, Wojdylo said.

Those “with thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars deposited in their trust account, have contributed only the minimum amount of restitution and fines required,” he continued.

Detainees walk into dining room from their cell block at the Idaho Correctional Institution outside Boise, Idaho, June 15, 2010 [File: Charlie Litchfield/AP Photo]

BOP officials are often reluctant to encourage detainees to use their accounts to pay the full refund, according to documents cited by the Post.

Jerry Anthony Bowman, a Tennessee man convicted of bank robbery, said a BOP staffman encouraged him to pay just $ 100 a month while he was behind bars, the Post said. At the time of his departure, he would only have paid half of what he owed.

Bowman tried to pay $ 16,000 he owed with the BOP account, but was forced to ask a judge to order that the money be taken from his account.

The request was granted. However, there is no need to seek a judge’s order to have the money transferred from a prisoner’s account.

A 2008 decision by a federal appellate court said the BOP “does not need judicial permission to withdraw money from a prisoner’s account, with or without the prisoner’s consent.”

Corruption concerns

Federal prosecutors worry the money in these accounts could promote illegal activities both outside and in prison.

U coronavirus pandemic virtually stopping the in-person visit for inmates and the outside world, which some believed reduced drug flow to correctional institutions at the state level.

But the drugs remained, according to numerous reports, in part thanks to corrupt prison guards who carried drugs and other contraband.

They are also concerned about the stimulus controls handed down to prisoners, both in the BOP prison and in the state and local levels.

The Post reported that 37,852 checks in excess of $ 38 million were handed over to federal detainees, although it is not clear exactly how many came to the inmates in BOP custody, which stands at about 129,000.

A BOP spokesman told the Post that it “recognizes the importance of compensating victims and encourages all detainees to meet their financial obligations through participation in the Immature Financial Responsibility Program.”

However, it cannot oblige detainees to pay alimony or child support ordered by state courts.

Wojdylo told the Post that the BOP’s position toward detainees’ accounts is “incredibly frustrating.”

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