Arizona Now Taxing People For Crime of Being Related To Criminals

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America's favorite existential vacuum the state of Arizona is back in the news this week, just like every week, with some acutely awful new first-of-its-kind state lawrequiring state prison visitors to pay a $25 "background check fee" in order to be allowed admission to see their loved ones in jail. Oh, hey, we notice that "background check fee" is in scare quotes? Yes, it is! Because that is only this dumb law's stripper name, to go on the receipt. The money is not actually for background checks; instead it's "to repair and maintain the prisons" ever since the Arizona state government lost interest in funding them (but not filling them!). Nice of those families to pick up Arizona's crime-fighting bills?


From the NYTimes:

New legislation allows the department to impose a $25 fee on adults who wish to visit inmates at any of the 15 prison complexes that house state prisoners. The one-time “background check fee” for visitors, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, has angered prisoner advocacy groups and family members of inmates, who in many cases already shoulder the expense of traveling long distances to the remote areas where many prisons are located.

David C. Fathi, director of the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the fee “mind-boggling” and said that while it was ostensibly intended to help the state — the money will be used to repair and maintain the prisons — it could ultimately have a negative effect on public safety.

“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 of prison is to continue family contact while they’re in prison,” he said. “Talk about penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

Yeah yeah, and it's probably unconstitutional in about eighty other ways, whatever, not like that ever stopped Arizona from making a good law, ya whiners. [NYT; h/t Wonkette Operative "berkeleyfarm"]

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