Friday, November 6, 2009

Depositing money for detainees' commissary use

If you want to deposit money for a detainee in the ICE unit at the McHenry County Jail or for an inmate in the general jail population, here are the new rules for how you do it. Check out the exorbitant cost to do so!

According to a memorandum dated October 26, 2009, on stationery of Keith Nygren, Sheriff, McHenry County Sheriff's Office, Chief of Corrections Daniel Sedlock says this is how you must do it now.

"There are currently three (3) options available to place funds on an inmate/detainee's commissary account:

"1. Use the KIOSK in the front lobby (there is a minimum $5.00 fee for each transaction).
"2. Use the internet at (there is a minimum $5.00 fee for each transaction).
"3. Mail in via the USPS, individually to each inmate/detainee a money order payable to the McHenry County Jail. Each money order must have the inmate/detainee's name and jail ID number written in the memo area and the sender must be clearly identified in the event the individual is no longer in custody and the money order must be returned."

The reasons for this procedure, according to Sedlock?
-an ever increasing population (of inmates)
-a growing number of organizations requesting to place funds on a detainee's account
-administrative burden on staff
-accreditation standards and regulations for strict accounting for funds

If anything, requiring separate money orders increases the bookkeeping burden on staff.

Let's say a visitor arrives at the Jail and wishes to deposit $10.00 into an inmate's account. S/he will be directed to the kiosk, where $5.00 will be sucked right off the top, leaving only $5.00 for the inmate. Why is such an exorbitant fee charged?

Who got the contract for that huge money-maker?

This procedure raises the question in my mind of the dollar amount of commissions (kickback) to the sheriff's department from the jail lobby "KIOSK" and from the internet payment link. How much does the sheriff's department receive from each $5.00 service charge?

And how much is the commission (kickback) to the sheriff's department from the items sold in the commissary? What vendor has the commissary contract and how does it reward the sheriff's department for its business (purchases by inmates/detainees), if at all?

Is any commission paid to the sheriff's department on commissary purchases? How is it calculated? When an inmate buys a candy bar (how are they priced) or shampoo of any other item, are they fairly priced? And what about sales tax? Is that paid?

Isn't $85.00/day per detainee enough to feed the wheels of justice in the McHenry County Jail?

And let's not forget the "service charge" to bond someone out.

The Jail is a true profit center for McHenry County government. It doesn't just break even. It apparently generates a large profit.


Curious1 said...

Just not getting this one Gus. I have to tell you I'm all for us taxpayers collecting every penny we can from convicts to help pay the cost of their incarceration. I just can't find pity that we may be up-charging them too much for that extra candy bar. It's all about choice, for most of us if we don't want to pay a higher price for a convenience item we have a choice not to stop at the convenient 7-11. For this group they had the choice not to rob the 7-11.

Gus said...

Yes, you are right. You're not getting this one.

If you don't want to pay $1.60 for a 49-cent candy bar at 7-11, you can go to Wal-Mart, Jewel or Walgreen's, or wait for a sale.

I suspect that most of the detainees are there because the car had a taillight out and a sharp-eyed deputy or cop stopped them. And so the detainee with a $2 taillight out gets arrested and locked up for 4-6 months while going through the process with ICE. Does that make sense?

Or how about a $13/day electronic monitor?

Yes, there are criminals locked up. And, yes, a person in this country illegally is a criminal. But somebody here 10 years who has a taillight out on his car is a different type of "criminal" that the 7-11 robber.

I question ripping off a detainee with over-priced commissary items and exorbitant "service fees" for depositing funds to his commissary account.

Click on the link to the internet deposit system and check out the inflated prices.

Whitmore2 said...

Does this ministry (see previous blog entry) or this option (e.g. money for an inmate) service ALL inmates or just ICE detainees? And are you in favor of this assistance for just the ICE detainees (with the broken taillights) or all inmates in the jail population? Thank you in advance for the clarifications.

Gus said...

The following explanation was received from Dave, Secular Franciscan Order.

"The Jail Ministry of McHenry County is focused on the strangers from around the world, the unknown refugees and asylum seekers fleeing from despots. They are being housed here in our County Jail by Immigration Control Enforcement pending a review of their cases to authenticate credibility of their claims. Another group are folks who were legal (some for many, many years) until the recent passage of the Patriot Act by which Geoge Bush made them illegal by the stroke of a pen. None of the souls we minister to are serving a sentence!

"Inmates are serving sentences and generally have local families, friends, and clergy they can turn to for support. There are a number of programs for them. So, while they are worthy of prayers and thoughtful consideration, they are not part of our jail ministry. We work with the forgotten strangers to our land."