Senate Bill 1232 — Inmate accounts

Senate Bill 1232 — Inmate accounts

by
Parrish Miller
January 16, 2020
Parrish Miller
January 16, 2020

Bill description: SB 1232 creates an inmate reentry savings account and establishes a framework for compulsory funding of the account.

Rating: -2

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase any taxes, fees, or other assessments? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce any taxes, fees, or other assessments?

SB 1232 amends Section 20-209H, Idaho Code, to modify the existing "inmate accounts" into two separate accounts, one a "spendable account" and the other a "reentry savings account." It directs that any court-ordered restitution will be paid from the spendable account.

SB 1232 does not say how much of the money paid to or received by an inmate must be deposited into the reentry savings account rather than be available for immediate use. Rather, it allows the state board of correction to set this percentage by rule. The percentage is capped at 25%, but the board could set it at a lower amount.

Because "all moneys received by the inmate from any other source" are subject to the savings account funding mandate, people (including a spouse or other family members) who give money to an inmate will see a percentage of their gift forcibly redirected and made unavailable for the inmate's immediate use. This money is deposited into an account the inmate may not be able to access for years or even decades, depending on the length of his or her sentence. Furthermore, the account does not pay interest to the inmate.

(-1)

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?

Existing law requires that 20% of each deposit into an inmate's account be used to make restitution to the victim or victims of an inmate's crimes, if a court orders restitution. SB 1232 changes this requirement to be just 20% of each deposit into an inmate's spendable account. The spendable account will receive only part of the total deposits, since up to 25% of all deposits could, depending on the board’s decision, be redirected to the inmate's reentry savings account. Giving restitution to the victims of crime should be the primary purpose of the criminal justice system, but this change would deprioritize that goal. 

(-1)

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