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Tuesday, August 02, 2016


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Chanson de Roland

It is not only absolutely awful; it is, in my opinion, absolutely unconstitutional. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives everyone, even prisoners, a constitutionally protected interest in their property, which the government may not seize or impair or diminish in any way, without due process of law, as specifically set forth in the law, which here would be the criminal law. The Fifth Amendment provides, in relevant part:

"No person shall . . . nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

When a prisoner is incarcerated, his personal property, in some circumstances, is seized and held in trust by the government for the prisoner's account until his release, when it is to be returned to him in total without burden, impairment, or encumbrance of any kind, that includes his property being returned to him without costs associated with its use and to be used and disposed of as he sees fit, subject only to the terms of his release. Clearly, prepaid cards impose costs associated with a former prisoner's use and deposit of his property, which he has not chosen. That appears to me to be a patent violation of that former prisoner's 5th Amend. right to have all of his property without costs imposed on its possession and/or use.

The Federal Prison System and the Dept. of the Treasury should be holding all prisoners' fund in a safe, government insured interest bearing accounts, with the prisoner receiving his money and his share of the interest upon his release, perhaps with a small deduction for the prisoner’s share of the costs of a competitively bid savings account. This is simply enough to do by giving a prisoner his equitable share of interest earn based on the share that his initial deposit purchased upon his imprisonment. Anything less violates the 5th Amendment right to property by effecting an unconstitutional taking of a prisoner's property in ways not provided for by law and not necessary to preserve that property and provide a safe return.

I don't think that this is a difficult case when presented to a federal court of competent jurisdiction upon the complaint of a person, a former prisoner, who has been forced to take a prepaid card of the type describe, supra. It is a ripe and possible very lucrative class action.

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