Release Cards

All too often, prisons and jails partner with private companies to charge people released from custody for the privilege of accessing their own money. Until recently, when a facility wanted to return money to someone upon release — money that was in that person's possession when arrested, money earned working in the facility, or money sent by friends and relatives — the facility would give cash or write a check. Now a growing number of prisons and jails are issuing pre-paid debit cards that eat up the meager balances with high fees.

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Model reform legislation:

  • Release card legislation for states
    Our sample legislation bans release card fees and requires that incarcerated people be given the option to have their funds returned by cash or check.

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