Oklahoma prison inmates will have savings accounts when they are paroled or released under a new state law that requires the Department of Corrections to set aside 20 percent of all money sent to the inmates for savings, reports the Associated Press. Family members and friends of inmates often send them money for hygiene, clothing, food or craft items that can be purchased at the prison canteen. Some inmates, depending on classification, are allowed to purchase a television set.
Funds sent to prisoners are recorded in a canteen account, which is deducted when they make a purchase. A spokesman for the Corrections Department, Jerry Massie, said the principle behind the new law is to give inmates some savings when they leave the system to help them with their re-entry efforts. Currently, the state gives departing prisoners only up to $50 with a portion of that covered by whatever remains in their canteen accounts. A portion of any wages inmates earn while in prison is already set aside under previous legislation. Interest earned from inmate savings accounts is put in the Victims Compensation Fund.