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85 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1224 (2017)
How States Can Take a Stand against Prison Banking Profiteers

handle is hein.journals/gwlr85 and id is 1280 raw text is: 


            How States Can Take a Stand Against
                     Prison Banking Profiteers

                           Catherine E. Akenhead*


         In recent years, state corrections departments have faced pressure to pro-
    vide better prison conditions while simultaneously cutting costs. Many critics
    have touted the emergence of privatized prison services as a cost-effective res-
    olution. However, those services shift the costs on to some of the poorest and
    most vulnerable consumers-prisoners and their families. This Note explores
    how private companies providing prison banking services to state correctional
    facilities use unfair practices to increase profits. The umbrella of prison bank-
    ing services includes deposits into inmate trust accounts, which allow prisoners
    to purchase necessities, and prepaid debit release cards, which are used to re-
    turn money to prisoners upon release. This Note describes how certain private
    companies retain a monopoly on these services, and are awarded contracts
    based on the amount of commission paid to state correctional facilities.
         As a result of paying those commissions and having no incentive to cut
    costs, private companies drive up their prices and charge consumers exorbi-
    tant rates to make deposits or to utilize prepaid cards. These practices dispro-
    portionately affect prisoners' families who provide their incarcerated loved
    ones with monetary support, and released inmates struggling to get back on
    their feet post-incarceration. Statistically, both of these groups are more likely
    to be low-income and least able to manage additional financial strain. This

    * J.D., 2017, The George Washington University Law School; B.A., Social Work, 2011,
University of Pittsburgh. Thank you to my mom for her unfailing support in all my endeavors, as
well as the editors of The George Washington Law Review for their guidance throughout the
publication process.

July 2017 Vol. 85 No. 4


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