BOP Using Inmate Financial Responsibility Program as a Racket to Steal Money from Inmate Families

Florence Federal Prison Camp Administrator Sends Memo to Seize More of Families Money


Denver, CO -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/28/2018 --On average inmates at the federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado earn an average slave wage of $10 dollars per month which makes it impossible for them to pay things like court costs and restitution or use commissary, phone or email services, all of which are services the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) provides to inmates at a cost.

The BOP permits an inmate to spend a maximum of $360 per month on commissary items, and a maximum of about $75 dollars per month for 300 minutes of phone calls. The BOP also charges an inmate 5 cents per minute using email. To print a black and white document for printing legal research for instance, the BOP charges the inmate 15 cents per page. Additionally, using the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP), the BOP extorts the inmate into paying a minimum of $25 dollars per quarter ($8.33 per month) towards court costs/restitution. If the inmate tells the case manager he can't afford to pay or refuses, the BOP punishes or sanctions the inmate further under (e.g., making their living conditions more miserable by putting them into a more crowded cell).

Although the inmate has already suffered the grave loss of their freedom, the BOP's mission is to 'pile on' or kick the inmate while he/she is down by making their life as hard as possible, and IFRP is just one of the many swords of oppression used to bring additional pain and misery to the inmate. "The BOP knows that inmates on slave wages can't afford to pay court costs or restitution and certainly can't pay for phone, email, commissary and printing services and would rely on financial assistance from their family to use them," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause. "When the inmate contacts his family for money to use the BOP services, the BOP seizes the family's money through IFRP and deposits it into BOP coffers," adds Banks."

Once a month the federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado provides the inmate with a small motel-style bar of soap, travel size tube of toothpaste, a miniature toothbrush and an ineffective razor. The fact that no deodorant or shaving cream is provided, the razor does not work, and that little bar of soap won't last a month, the BOP knew a deprived inmate would be forced to use commissary services to buy these items and would receive financial assistance from concerned family members.

"First, It is wrong for the BOP to steal this money and deposit it into BOP coffers," says Banks "I'm sure the BOP would argue that they're not stealing money, but only using it to pay court costs and restitution. Second, the families did not authorize the BOP to seize their money and misappropriate it for purposes they never intended and deprive their loved ones the use of BOP services they sent it for," add Banks, "and third, if the family wanted to pay court costs and restitution on behalf of their incarcerated loved one they could send the money directly to the courts and don't need the BOP to serve as a middleman. If the BOP wants the inmate to pay court costs and restitution then stop enslaving them and pay them a sensible wage where they can be personally responsible and pay these obligations," adds Banks. "Clearly, IFRP was established for the sole purpose of stealing hard-earned money from innocent families to support BOP and larger government and special interests," contends Banks.

A Just Cause reviewed four real-world IFRP cases at the federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado where the Camp Administrator, Ms. Morse, recently sent a memo to case managers, telling them, in essence, to steal more money from their families through IFRP. Inmate David Banks who earns $12.00 per month ($72.00 per year) and whose family's money was seized each month over the past three years at the tune of $90.00 per month (total of $3240.00), was called into his case manager's office after the Morse memo and told that his new monthly IFRP cost would be $575 dollars per month ($6900 per year).

"Obviously, an inmate earning $72 dollars per year can't possibly pay $6900.00 so the BOP will seize his family's money when or if it is sent to use for commissary, phone, email, and printing services," says Cliff Stewart of A Just Cause. "If the inmate tells the case manager he can't afford to pay, it is considered an IFRP refusal and the case manager punishes him under IFRP guidelines by decreasing his $12.00 per month slave wage, limiting his commissary spending to $25 per month and worsening his living conditions. Inmates either agree to allow the BOP to seize their family's money or suffer the consequences," says Stewart.

Inmate Banks relies heavily on email to work on legal matters related to his case because the BOP only has typewriters and doesn't provide Microsoft Word or any other word processing capability. The email system is so basic it doesn't even have the copy and paste function. Unfortunately, the BOP charges 5 cents per minute for using email and when inmate Banks' family sends money for him to use for email to support legal work, the BOP increases the IFPR amount and seizes money from them.

Commissary and 300-minute phone call spending are respectively capped at $360 and $75 per month for a total of $435. Any other money sent by family would be for the inmate's use of email and printing services which cost 5 cents per minute for email and 15 cents per page. Under IFRP, the more the inmate receives financial help for the use of these services, the more money the BOP seizes to put into its coffers. "You have to question why the BOP is charging inmates to read and write emails?" ponders Cliff Stewart of A Just Cause. "Email is the absolute cheapest, ubiquitous and unsophisticated communications technology on the planet and the BOP is charging for it. There's absolutely no reason the BOP should care how much an inmate emails or calls his family and friends or how many documents they print or how much money a family sends for the use of these paid services," says Stewart. "To seize a family's money sent to their incarcerated loved one to pay for these services depositing it into the BOP's coffers for any reason whatsoever is improper and quite possibly illegal. Someone must be profiting from this," suspects Stewart.

Florence inmates Demetrius Harper and Clinton Stewart earn $1.40 per month and their family's money is seized by the BOP to pay $95 per month for Harper and $55 per month for Stewart. Inmate David Zirpolo is paid $3.50 per month with an IFRP amount of $25 per quarter. None of them can afford to pay a dime of alleged restitution but the BOP also seizes the money of their family and friends. "My family deserted me," says Zirpolo, "and I am fortunate enough to have friends from my church to sacrifice and send me money, so I can communicate with people who love and care about me." "For the BOP to take their money for any reason is wrong," adds Zirpolo. IFRP seizure amounts for Zirpolo, Harper, and Stewart are certain to drastically increase under the Morse policy change.

"IFRP appears to be a racket set-up by the BOP to steal money from my family and friends of inmates and there's no telling how many millions of dollars have been seized over decades," says Banks. "Camp Administrator Morse is looking to take even more money from the families of inmates at Florence," adds Banks. "A Just Cause will be contacting members of Congress and discussing with law firms whether there is potential to file class-action law suit against the BOP," concludes Banks.

Media Relations Contact

Lamont Banks
Executive Director
A Just Cause

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