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Highway Robbery

By Paul Wright

On April 18, 1990, Chase Riveland, Secretary of the DOC, signed DOC Policy 270.070 "Legal Financial Obligations (LFO) Program in Prisons. Effective immediately.

The main purpose of this policy is so that the counties, via the DOC, can collect fines, restitution, court costs, etc., imposed by the sentencing court. This is nothing new and has been done by the DOC, albeit not efficiently, in the past.

However, Section A of this policy states that a "Mandatory Savings Account" of $250.00 will be established for each prisoner. The money will be collected when the DOC takes 10% or $1.00, whichever is greater, from all deposits to a prisoners inmate trust fund account. In other words, the DOC will involuntarily take a 10% cut from all earnings, gifts from family, etc. This has nothing to do with the LFO part of the policy and will affect everyone.

They state the purpose of this is to "provide the inmate with funds upon release of transfer from the DOP." As if $250.00 will mean anything to those of doing life sentences and life without. The DOC has exempted the policy form the grievance procedure leaving no administrative avenue to challenge it by.

Nothing is said what will be done with the interest generated from these involuntary "savings" accounts but we can bet that they won't go to prisoners.

The 9th Circuit, in a case out of Walla Walla held: "There is no question that Quick's interest in his prison account is a protected property interest." See" Quick Vs. Jones, 754 F.2d 1521, 1523 (9th Cir. 1984).

Saying that its purpose is to provide us with gate money may not hold up in court because the legislature, in RCW 72.02.100 specifically provides that the state give each released prisoner $40.00, transportation and a set of clothes upon release. If this isn't sufficient, the legislature needs to appropriate more funds, they're spending $450 million to build more prisons so it can't be a lack of money.

None of the RCW's cited in the policy authorize the DOC taking the money for this savings account, only to pay LFO's. Once taken from us we will have no say in what the DOC does with this money until after we are released. Your children may be sick with no money for health care and the DOC will have this money sitting in an account somewhere and you'll have no access to it. Every penny your friends and family send you, or that you earn will be taxed by the DOC.

Note that the Supreme Court recently ruled that the states can't take federal money (social security, pensions, etc.) from prisoners to pay for our incarceration.

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