American prisons have constructed an outrageous money-generating system that charges exorbitant fees for families to send money to inmates, for the inmates to use the money on debit cards, and even inactivity fees when the inmates don’t use the cards, according to an investigation by Al Jazeera America.
And perhaps most disgusting of all, the private companies that operate these revenue streams are required to send kickbacks to the government agencies that operate the prisons. It is an elaborate scheme that generates millions in profits by bilking dollars and cents from some of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable families.
“Prison is a racket,” Delonda McInelly, a former inmate at Arizona’s Perryville facility, told Al Jazeera. “It really is a profitable business. The families are being treated like criminals and it’s not fair.”