The Arizona Department of Corrections has begun charging a $25 background check
fee to visitors of state prison inmates, The New York Times reports.
Advocacy group Middle Ground Prison Reform believes both the charge and the procedure to be unnecessary, stating that it was "pretext for raising money for general public purposes" rather than a safety method. The legislation lets the ADC impose a $25 one-time fee on adults who visit any of the 15 facilities in the state. The scheme was devised as a way to cut into the state's $1.6 billion deficit and provide funds for building maintenance and renewal, Wendy Baldo, chief of staff for the Arizona Senate, told the news source. The Digital Journal reports that the additional fee may discourage visitation from family members who must already deal with the cost of transportation to see their imprisoned relatives. This could damage the prisoners' chances of avoiding recidivism after they're released. "We know that one of the best things you can do if you want people to go straight and lead a law-abiding life when they get out ... is to continue family contact while they're in prison," said David C. Fathi, director of the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, as quoted by the news source.