I dont KNOW that this is the case..but it could be that the cost of collecting the money would exceed the amount of money they would ever be able to collect. A lot of these people get out and have very little money for a long time (and thats if they don’t end up getting incarcerated again). Just a thought, as a former accountant…you would know a thousand times more than me about this. I would imagine the state could afford to have at least one person work on the collection efforts.
I’m currently working as a DW at a prison in Pennsylvania, this is the 3rd county facility I’ve worked with in my corrections career, and one thing that’s always boggled my mind is the fact that all prisons I’m aware of release guys with negative balances or money owed to the prison and the prisons never make any attempt at collecting this money.
I’m just talking about prison owed money, nothing to do with their fines or costs associated with the cases, rather things like processing fee’s, charges for prescriptions, doc visits, destruction of property charges, room and board, etc. It seems inmates are regularly released hundreds of dollars in the hole, and the counties never make an attempt to recoup the charges.
Prior to coming to corrections I was a corporate accountant and handled many collections efforts with the corporate credit card program the company ran at the time, so I’m somewhat familiar with the collections process.
Is anyone out there working with a prison that makes some sort of collection effort on these monies owed? If so please let me know how it’s handled at your facility. Our intake process already includes them signing paperwork agreeing to be responsible for these charges, but i’m thinking a disclosure line would be necessary saying they relize the information they give during the intake process could be used for collections efforts. And when inmates are dischared we already have them sign their accounting sheets and if positive give them a check, or if negative just to acknowledge the debt.
I’m hoping to meet with a few collection agencies to discuss the idea, and the benefits of collection efforts vs. a flat buy out of all accounts at a reduced amount. Personally i would prefer the latter if i could land a buyout agreement somewhere between 25-30% of the debt.
Please feel free to comment, I look forward to hearing how other facilities are handling this…