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Prisoner money

Information about what happens to a prisoner's money while they are in jail.

The prison will deposit money each week for prisoners who are working, studying or who are medically unfit to work or even where a prisoner is unemployed. Prisoners can also get up to $140 a month sent from friends or relatives who are on their prison visit list.

Bank accounts

Each prisoner will have a trust account with their money in it. Each account is separated into at least 2 parts:

  • spend account—for the prison shop or canteen
  • withheld account—a compulsory savings account holding 20% of income (from work or training).

See rr. 45, 49—Corrections Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and DCI 4.09 Prisoner monies—Deputy Commissioner's Instructions.

Withheld account

The money held as compulsory savings is designed to help the prisoner to save so that they will have some money when they leave prison. The prison manager may approve the prisoner accessing money from this account if:

  • they need to purchase id such as a proof of age card or birth certificate
  • the prisoner has been sentenced 'never to be released'
  • there are exceptional circumstances and the prisoner will maintain at least $1000 in their balance
  • there are genuine transitional needs that relate to the imminent release of the prisoner and their savings will not fall below $500 as a result of the withdrawal.

For details see 1.3 Compulsory savings in DCI 4.09 Prisoner monies—Deputy Commissioner's Instructions.

Account balances

Prisoners can ask for a print-out of the account balances each month. No interest is payable on these accounts.

See rr. 45, 47—Corrections Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Transfers to the prisoner

Money can be transferred to the prisoner from friends or relatives who are on the prisoner’s visitor list. Prisoners are not allowed to get other prisoners to transfer money to them.

To transfer money to a prisoner, the creditor should:

  • send money by money order or bank cheque
  • clearly write their name and address on the envelope
  • visitors may provide money in cash when they come to visit (receipt will be issued).

Note: It is not advisable to send cash via post as there is no guarantee that it will get to the prisoner's account.

Receipt

The prison will issue a receipt for all money sent to the prisoner. The prisoner will get a copy of this receipt. It is important that the person sending money includes their name and address. If they do not do this, the money will not be accepted unless:

  • the prisoner has nobody recorded on their visitor list
  • the money is sent from overseas
  • the money comes from the prisoner's private bank account (following a written request by the prisoner).

There is no limit on the total amount of money that can be held in the prisoner’s trust account. The prisoner can not get any more than $140 per month from friends or family.

Exceptions

Special purchases

In exceptional circumstances the General manager may approve the receipt of additional money for approved special circumstances, such as a computer. The prisoner will have to apply in writing for this.

See rr. 47, 48—Corrections Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and DCI 4.09 Prisoner monies—Deputy Commissioner's Instructions.

Extra money for phone calls

Some prisons, for example Fulham and Port Philip, will let the prisoners have up to $50 extra paid into their phone accounts. This money is only to be used for making phone calls. Not all prisons have this system.

The General manager may approve additional money to be transferred so that the prisoner can call family or friends who are on the prisoner's visitors list and who live interstate or overseas. The prisoner will generally need to demonstrate that they are making lots of calls to family or friends interstate and that this is costing them a significant percentage of their monthly spend account. The prisoner will have to apply to do this by completing an 'Application for additional private moneys form'. This will be assessed on a base-by-case basis for a 3 month period.

To access the form see Schedule 4.09(1) in DCI 4.09 Prisoner monies—Deputy Commissioner's Instructions.

Transfers from the prisoner

A prisoner can ask for money to be transferred from their spend account to:

  • family members
  • government agencies
  • approved charities or appeals.

Money cannot be transferred to other prisoners or to people connected with other prisoners.

See r. 48—Corrections Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and DCI 4.09 Prisoner monies—Deputy Commissioner's Instructions.

How to transfer money

To transfer money, the prisoner must provide:

  • a stamped, addressed envelope
  • reasons for their request.

For example, if the person has to help their partner to pay bills or if they need to provide for their children.

Savings upon release

Savings are paid on the prisoner’s release, some in cash and some in a cheque.

Money deducted from the prisoner’s account

The prison governor may deduct money from the prisoner’s trust account to pay fines that a prisoner has been issued with as a result of disciplinary hearing at the prison. Money may also be deducted to make restitution for any deliberate damage that has been done to prison property.

This money cannot be deducted from the prisoner’s compulsory savings account but may be deducted from any of the other parts of the account. This money will be paid into the consolidated fund.

The prisoner does not have to approve of these deductions, but will be notified of all deductions and the reasons for making the deduction.

If the prisoner does not have enough money in their spend/set aside or phone account to cover the deductions, the Governor may restrict the amount of money that a prisoner can spend to $12 each week until all of the money has been paid.

See DCI 4.09 Prisoner monies—Deputy Commissioner's Instructions and rr. 48, 49—Corrections Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Corrections Regulations 2019 (Vic)

  • r. 45 28—prisoner trust account
  • r. 46—secretary may approve of interest in prisoner trust account to be paid to victim
  • r. 47 29—regulation of prisoner money
  • r. 48 30—expenditure of prisoner money
  • r. 49 31—prisoner savings

See Corrections Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Reference

Prison law org

This site, originally created by the Mental Health Legal Service, has information to support prisoners and their families.

  • 'Trust accounts'

See Prison law.org(opens in a new window)

Related pages

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