Prison Account Maintenance & Administration Fees

In 2003, G.L. c. 124, § 1 was amended to add subsection (u). This amendment to the statute states that the Commissioner of Correction shall:

(u) adopt policies and procedures establishing reasonable fees for maintenance and administration of inmate accounts maintained at any state correctional facility. The commissioner may charge each inmate reasonable fees for the maintenance and administration of inmate accounts and may deduct such fees from each inmate’s accounts.
G.L. c. 124, § 1(u)

This law allows the Department of Correction to charge a fee for keeping prison accounts. It does not allow such fees to be charged for accounts in county facilities. According to the Commissioner’s August 2004 memorandum putting this policy into effect, as of October 4, 2004 prisoners will be charged a $1 activity fee in any calendar month in which their accounts have any one or more of the following transactions:

• A deposit of money received in the mail
• A deposit of money received from a visitor
• A deposit of money received during intake into the prison
• A withdrawal of money by check from your account

No matter how many of these transactions a prisoner makes in one month, the DOC will not charge more than $1 activity fee for that month. In order to reduce the number of months for which a prisoner is charged a fee, he or she may want to try to consolidate transactions into one month as much as possible. For example, if a relative sends a prisoner a certain amount of money each month, the relative may be able to gather that money for a few months and send it all at once. Prisoners should not be charged the $1 activity fee in any month in which they only use their accounts for the canteen or for getting paid for a prison job.

Under the policy, the DOC will also charge a $1 fee for each check that requires a stop payment.

If a prisoner is charged a fee that is not allowed under the policy, he or she should file a grievance and follow through with the full appeal process if needed.