Prison Policy Initiative endorses the Families Over Fees Act of 2024, which would protect incarcerated people from predatory fees

Bill would take an important step toward ending the exploitation of incarcerated people

by Wanda Bertram, May 24, 2024

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Families Over Fees Act, a bill targeting “junk fees” in prisons and jails. This piece of legislation would take an important step toward ending the exploitation of incarcerated people and their families, and we urge lawmakers and the public to support its passing.

Incarcerated people are frequently subjected to hidden and unnecessary fees when they make important purchases and transactions, such as paying to call their loved ones. The Act would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to establish rules prohibiting these fees. It would also require prison and jail service providers to disclose these fees upfront, and would create legal protections for people impacted by junk fees looking to bring lawsuits.

“As we have recently noted, billions of dollars each year are mined from incarcerated people, their families, and the often economically disadvantaged communities from which they come. Much of this money comes from charging massive predatory junk fees for things like basic needs and communication,” said Sarah Staudt, Policy and Advocacy Director at the Prison Policy Initiative. “These fees are inflicted upon incarcerated people and their families and used to line the pockets of prison profiteers who have little competition and even less oversight. The Prison Policy Initiative is happy to support the Families Over Fees Act which places people above profits, and offers much needed consumer protections for incarcerated people and their communities.”

Readers can learn more about the Families Over Fees Act in the official press release.

As Congress considers this bill, we also remind state and municipal lawmakers that they can take action to stop predatory fees locally through diligent contracting with prison service providers. Policymakers should refer to these resources:

One response:

  1. James Paul Berry says:

    Good move Senator Booker, but it needs to become law, soon!

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