A planned Arizona $25 fee on adults who wish to visit inmates at any of the 15 state prisons is being challenged in court as an illegal special tax, says the New York Times. The one-time “background check fee” for visitors, believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S., has angered prisoner advocacy groups and family members of inmates, who already must pay to travel to the remote areas where many prisons are located.
David Fathi 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.” A legislative staff member said the fees would not actually pay for background checks but would help maintain and repair prisons.