Arizona to charge to visit inmates
The correlation between low morale and violence is not a mystery, so this punishing of innocent visitors could backfire in that sense. Friends and family of inmates who already pay the expenses for long trips to visit, and often have low-income jobs, might just stop coming. It's not surprising to learn that Governor Brewer's chief of staff worked as a private prison lobbyist. Maybe they could also start charging visitors to use the bathroom and then hit them with an exit fee. One inmate's wife said, "It's hard for a family to survive incarceration. They are wanting to make us pay a fee every year, which is just a way to make a profit off of families that are already struggling." But Arizona DOC Director Charles L. Ryan said in February that "the prison system costs the Arizona taxpayer about $1 billion a year and visitation is a privilege."
A Tempe-based group called Middle Ground Prison Reform filed a lawsuit against the Corrections Department last month, arguing the fee is just a pretext for raising money "for general public purposes," and is unconstitutional because it essentially amounts to a special tax on a single group. Middle Ground is also suing over one of the law's provisions which imposes a one-percent charge on each deposit to a prisoner's spending account.