House Bill No. 44

Introduced By devaney

By Request of the Department of Corrections

A Bill for an Act entitled: An Act limiting the financial transactions of correctional facility inmates; and providing for disclosure of inmates' accounts in financial institutions and monitoring of their accounts.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:

Section 1.  Limits on inmate financial transactions. (1) An inmate of the Montana state prison in Deer Lodge or the women's correctional system in Billings shall use the prison inmate trust account system administered by the department of corrections to send money out of or receive money in the facility unless the department grants the inmate an exception. If an inmate accumulates a balance in excess of $200 in the inmate's prison inmate trust account, the excess must, consistent with department rules, be forfeited for the payment of restitution or costs of incarceration. The department may charge an inmate a minimum fee, not to exceed $1.60 each month to administer the inmate's account.

(2) (a) Money forfeited under subsection (1) to the payment of restitution must be paid in the following order:

(i) to the victim until the victim's unreimbursed pecuniary loss is satisfied;

(ii) to the crime victims compensation and assistance account provided for in 53-9-109 until the account is fully reimbursed for compensation to the victim;

(iii) to any other government agency that has compensated the victim for the victim's pecuniary loss;

(iv) to any insurance company that has compensated the victim for the victim's pecuniary loss.

(b) If the inmate's sentence did not provide for the payment of restitution or if there is a balance of money after restitution has been paid under subsection (2)(a), money forfeited under subsection (1) must be applied to the inmate's costs of incarceration.

(3) The department shall adopt rules establishing criteria for forfeiture of funds under subsection (1). The rules must contain clear guidelines regarding forfeiture that ensure restitution under subsection (2) but that:

(a) do not unreasonably inhibit an inmate's ability to save money for the purchase of tools or other items to further the education of the inmate for purposes of rehabilitation or seeking employment after release from the correctional facility; and

(b) do inhibit any inmate's ability to deal in contraband or illegal acts within or outside the correctional facility.

Section 2.  Inmate financial disclosure and account monitoring. (1) Upon incarceration at the Montana state prison in Deer Lodge or the women's correctional system in Billings, an inmate shall:

(a) make full disclosure of all the inmate's accounts in financial institutions to the department of corrections in writing and under oath;

(b) sign a release authorizing any financial institution in which the inmate has an account of any kind to provide the department with copies of records of any transaction in the account during the inmate's term of incarceration in the prison or correctional system. Released copies of records are confidential criminal justice information as defined in 44-5-103.

(c) sign a release authorizing the department to monitor any inmate account in a financial institution.

(2) Failure of an inmate to disclose information under subsection (1)(a) or sign a release under subsection (1)(b) or (1)(c) is an offense under 45-7-302.

Section 3.  Codification instruction. [Sections 1 and 2] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 53, chapter 1, part 1.