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Suit Challenges Fee of $25 to Visit Arizona Inmates

Posted Sep 6, 2011 10:34 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A new Arizona law authorizes prisons to charge a one-time fee of $25 to adults who visit prisoners.

The Tempe-based group Middle Ground Prison Reform has challenged the fee in a lawsuit (PDF), the New York Times reports. The complaint alleges the fee is an unconstitutional tax on a single group to raise money for general public purposes. A second suit (PDF) by the group challenges another provision of the law that charges a 1 percent fee on deposits to prisoner spending accounts.

Inmates’ lawyers are exempt from the visitor fee, according to the suit.

Wendy Baldo, chief of staff for the Arizona Senate, told the Times the money will help pay for maintenance and repairs to prisons.

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