Nothing in prison is free, I pay for everything I get in prison, I do not mind this at all because it is the American way, but things start to get a little dirty once you enter the confinement of DOC.When I was sentenced to 40 years in prison at age 35 I was also sentence to pay twenty six thousand dollars in court cost. I told my public defender Lisa Tabbitt that “I will never pay these fines” when she was going over the plea agreement with me. My lovely lawyer Mrs. Tabbitt did not tell me at any time while going over the plea that by signing the pleagreement that in fact, I would be paying these court cost of twenty five thousand dollars, and nine hundred dollars of restitution to have my victim cremated, as soon as I arrived at in DOC custody.
The $25,000 in court cost seemed a little steep considering the small amount of time I was in the courtroom.
Well, come to find out the courts time was under $500, it was my sweet little pubic defender Mrs. Tabbitt that was getting the lions share of the twenty five grand.
Now it makes perfect scents to me what Mrs. Tabbitt said to me the first day I met her in the county jail. I told her thanks for coming to see me, but I am going to sell my assets, and pay for my own legal defense. Mrs. Tabbitts response was no the state will pay. What Mrs. Tabbitt was really saying was that the state will pay her $24500 for doing nothing.
Mrs. Tabbitt was paid $24500 by the state for talking me into taking a pleagreement, and did not tell me that o ya Mr. Lancaster you will be paying these court cost plus 12% compound interest monthly starting the day you pleeguilty.
OK, I believe it is the right thing that I pay the court for its time, and the resutution for the cremation, and even Mrs. Tabbitts time, which in reality could have not been worth more than $2500 for the little time she put into my case.
I would even feel better if I had to pay my victims adult children $25000 when I am released from prison because I would have a job, and I would actually be able to pay them a little money for there loss, which 25000 is nothing when you loose your Dad if you guys were tight.
So to also put my finances in a little clearer picture I have to tell you a little about my divorce. I was divorced, and ordered to pay my ex $25 per month per kid,so $75 a month in child support, and on top of this child support the judge gave my exwife all of my assets. The judge said “because you were stupid, and got a forty year sentence, I am going to give your ex wife all of the marital assets to compensate for the lack of child support that you will be able to pay”.
I am in prison now where I am able to buy some property like a T.V., spoon, cup, hygiene things a person needs to try to be a little comfortable. So I ask my little sister to send me in $700, and she does.
Then I get the news. I received a receipt saying my sister sent me in $700 and DOC took 90% leaving me $70. I told my sister not send me anymore money until I figured this out.
To figure out what had happened to all of my money I had to send a kite to the prison accounting department, and received a break down of where all of the money went. 5% goes to a crime victim compensation fee, 10% goes to a non interest baring savings account for my release, 15% goes to legal financial compensation, 25% goes to cost of incarceration, and the 35% goes to child support.
After a year I received a notice from child support telling me they would no longer be coming after me for their 35% child support because I had to much time, so now I am down to only DOC, and the state taking 55% of my money.
DOC makes you work a job, and they even pay you, kind of. So DOC has different jobs that pay different amounts, and I only know about two of the ways because I am only eligible to work in these two ways.
A unit job starts out at forty two cents an hour, and you can work your way up to the max of fifty five cents an hour, and for me at a unit job they only take 5%, and I get to keep $52.50 most paydays if I can put in 30 hrs a week, or six hrs a day.
I also worked at CI where I started out at fifty five cents an hour, and worked my way up to one dollar, and twenty cents an hour. But working a CI job means DOC, and the state will be taking the fifty five percent. So at fifty five cents an hour I am really only making twenty five cents an hour.
Now that I have explained three ways that DOC can take my money, I can explain a fourth, and the one that motivated me to write on this topic.
I can have ten dollar money order sent in, and if I have a zero balance on my inmate spendable account DOC will not take any of this money, but anything over ten dollars is hit with what DOC calls there standard deduction, for me its 55%.
If these ten dollar money orders my sister sends me in stack up, and exceed the ten dollars on my inmate spendable account I will loose 55% of anything over the ten.
To make sure the stacking of the ten dollar money orders does not happen, my sister uses her debit card to transfer money to my inmate spendable account via jpay, and go figure jpay charges a hefty service charge of four bucks for my sister to put money on my account which DOC gets a nice little kick back on also for their trouble.
As you can now see that because of committing my crime all of my worldly assets are now gone, and a prison job will not cover even my basic needs, like hygiene.
I can not make enough money at a prison job to even keep up with the interest on my legal financial obligations/ court cost, which now after thirteen years in prison went from $26000 to $55000. This is just in thirteen years, and I have at least 25 more to go. TBC…
The fifth way DOC can take your money just happened to me today. I was at Stafford Creek, and I signed up for a beekeeping class which cost $5, but before I could start the class I was transferred to Shelton so I could not take the class.
I just thought I was burnt on that $5 and just forgot about it unit I received a receipt from DOCs accounting telling me that the beekeeper association had refunded my five dollars I had paid them from my inmate spendable account.
I had pay for the beekeepers class from my inmate spendable account so this money had already been hit with the 55% deductions, but DOC got the entire $5 refund because they put it on my account before my ten dollars would be sent from my sister.
So instead of having $15 on my inmate spendable account, I now have only $10. If DOC would have put the ten dollars from my sister on my account first than I would have gotten the entire $15, but no chance of that dealing with DOCs bean counters, they really know how to hustle. DOC has every angel figure out, and they milk me, and my family for everything they can.
If you do not have a job, which a lot of prisoners don’t because there is just not enough jobs to go around, or your loved one’s can not afford to send you the ten dollars a week then DOC will run what they call an indigent debt with you, and you will be able to buy what DOC calls indigent supply’s.
Most of these indigent supply’s are junk, but if that’s the only hygiene you can get its better then nothing. Try taking a shower with out soap, and not having a tooth brush, time can get a little hard without a job, or love from home.
Now this indigent debt is a new bread of cat, and DOC takes almost all of your money to pay it off once you start working.
Even if a guy is in prison for the rest of his life they will still take the standard deductions unless you argue that you will never get the 10% deduction for savings, but all of the rest will still apply.
Even if a prisoner pays off all of his court cost, child support,and inmate debt, he will always pay 25% to cost of incarceration, and the 5% for the crime victims compensation. So 30% of any money from his CI job, and any money put on his inmate spendable account.
The price of our store items are the same as back home because CI a subsidiary of DOC purchases orders wholesale, and retail the goods to prisoners.
The way that DOC, and Correctional Industries operates is a mirror image of the old day Cole company’s, and their company stores from back in the red neck days.
I was just transferred from Stafford Creek where I just finished doing 8 years, and they only let us order store 12 to 14 days which made it impossible for my ten dollar money transfers not to hit one on top of the other, so that I would only receive $4.50 of the second money transfer because DOC could take their deductions.
Now that I am at Shelton I receive store orders once a week, and the store is ran much smoother then it is operated at Stafford Creek. I now mostly get my ten dollars a week except when DOC hits me for the monthly cable fee of .50¢, or when I have to submit my quarterly weight member ship of $7.
DOC has many time took money from my spendable account, for charges that are not legitimate, and If I was not on top of my finances I would just be burnt.
For example DOC makes us pay a $4 fee every time we sign up for sick call. This means if I cut myself out on the basketball court, or softball field, I am charged four dollars. We are not allowed to purchase over the counter, band aids, disinfectant, or any other products that you might need to clean, and bandage a wound.
I was even charged $4 fees for sending medical kits to correspond with the medical provider about my medications. When I noticed I was missing a considerable amount of money from my medical account, and money from my spendable account, I contacted accounting, and was refunded $24 to my medical account.
I wrote to accounting and told them that they took half the money from my spendable account, and I wanted placed back on that account.
The response I received was per DOC policy all refunds from medical will be placed on the medical account no matter which account it had come off of.
The fraudulent fees, and deduction are endless in the Washington state prison system.
Nothing in prison is free, and most prisoners are put into deep debt by the system, setup to never be able to get out of debt.
The prison industrial complex is a system of mass incarceration, and recidivism, a designed, planned out corrupt system of government to profit off of everything, and anything.
DOC gets kick backs from jpay, the telephone system, Union Supply, and other vendors that pay to have a monopoly with the system, so they can get away with sub par service, and cheap products sold at inflated rates.
Prisoners have email, but are limited to 6000 characters because we are charged per email. We have what jpay calls stamps, and you have to use one every time you send a email. The charges go on, and on with jpay.
For example, my mother purchased me a new 15″ T.V. from Union Supply, a little cheap junk RCA, and it cost her $270 plus tax.
Tax, yes we even pay sales tax on all the non food items that are sold on the store. We pay taxes, but are not afforded any of the tax benefits.
Like when I sued for my public records, and won, but was not aloud to collect the $3000 I received in penalty day because I am a prisoner. A free tax payer would have received this penalty day award, but not us because we are second class citizens.
The Washington state prison system is designed to break a prisoner down financially, and to keep them down financially.
There is no way for a prisoner in this system today, to get ahead, or help his family out while doing time. Not unless he wants to go without.
The system is design to keep a prisoners down, put them into massive debut with no hope upon release to make it when they get home.
Sean K Lancaster
Categories: Sean Lancaster