Florida Inmates Charged Banking Fee

Starting this week, inmates in Florida will shell out $4 a month from their personal banking accounts.

There are more than 80,000 inmates in the state of Florida, and all of them are required to have a bank account. Florida is now collecting a $4 a month fee from each inmate's account.

Sterling Ivey, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Corrections, says, "This past legislative session the Legislature cut out $5 million from the department's budget, and as a way to make up for that loss of funding, they allowed the department to impose a fee to inmates to operate the inmate banking system."

The fee should bring about $3.5 million to the Department of Corrections, a fee that could have been $6.

Sterling adds, "A lot of money that's deposited into the inmates' accounts is deposited by family members and friends. For that reason, we didn't impose a $6 fee."

Inmates are not allowed to have money in prison, so they're given a plastic debit card to purchase canteen items like clothing and deodorant.

Sterling says, "We run a cash less canteen system, so that there's no money or goods that inmates can trade for inside the prison system."

The new fee actually went into effect July 1. However, the state decided to start collecting on the 31st.

The $4 fee is drawing criticism from inmate advocacy groups and the Florida Justice Institute, which has filed a suit challenging the fee.