Wednesday, April 17, 2024

County jail ATM fees called “outrageous”

Who said crime does not pay?

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(Editor’s note: Quotes in the following story about the July 24 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of Okanogan County (BOCC) are taken from notes provided by Okanogan County Watch countywatch.org.

OKANOGAN – If you are among those who think the standard fees charged by area ATMs are onerous, DO NOT commit any offense that lands you in the Okanogan County jail. The incarceration is bad enough. Then there is the 10 percent transaction fee the jail ATM charges those who deposit money into an inmate’s account.

That’s the complaint one citizen brought to the meeting of the Board of Okanogan County Commissioners (BOCC) on June 24.

Citizen Steve Kelly called the 10 percent fee “outrageous” and said he was advised by Okanogan County Sheriff Paul Budrow that the BOCC has jurisdiction over the ATM contract.

Kelly had more to add.

“A couple of months ago a friend left $100 and was charged $10 extra,” said Kelly. “That seems unfair and taking advantage of people.”

Kelly cited yet another case where an inmate who was expecting some money never saw any of it.

“He’d been assaulted last year in jail and had to be taken to the hospital,” said Kelly. “So, they’re deducting his hospital bill from whatever is donated to him.”

Kelly said that it is the inmate’s understanding that the person who assaulted him is the one who is held responsible.

“If he’s not getting his money, it’s going to make the rest of us not want to give money to any inmate,” said Kelly. “I know someone who’d like to donate, but what’s the point if (the inmate) is not getting it”.

Commissioner Chris Branch said the BOCC has taken note of the practice and will look into it.

Commissioner Andy Hover said that for those in jail who come from low-income homes, the high charge can make a real difference.

Commissioner Jon Neal said while most ATMs charge a fee, 10 percent seems too much.

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