the cost of incarceration: examining money transfer fees

online money transfer fees range from 5% to 37%, according to a new report from the Prison Policy Initiative

We go to the Prison Policy Initiative for this week’s study, “Show me the money: Tracking the companies that have a lock on sending funds to incarcerated people” by Stephen Raher and Tiana Herring.

“Companies seem to go out of their way to make money-order payments arduously slow and plagued by uncertainty.”

  • The average online transfer fee is 19% for $20

    • There is only a slight decline for higher-dollar transfers

  • Fees for phone or in-person payments, which are preferable options for individuals from low-income background were found to generally higher than for online payments.

“There is no reasonable explanation why prison money transfers are so much more expensive than regular ‘free world’ services like Venmo.”

Read the whole study here.


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