From Death Row-the Problem with Restitution

by Sandy Nieves, CCWF
California’s death row prisoners, families and friends are penalized not only with their lives, but also by restitution. Death row prisoners can’t work like other inmates. So who pays? All of the families and friends are forced to pay the death row inmates’ restitution whenever money is sent to purchase hygiene, food or whatever needs are necessary to “live” on death row. The state automatically takes 22% of those funds. Next the California Department of Corrections (CDC) is voting to raise the garnishment to 33% on May 1st 2003. By 2004 the State will take 55% of all money sent in. Who’s being punished here?
It is against the law in CA to garnish anyone’s wages over 22%, even for child support from dead-beat fathers! Not only does an inmate on death row pay with their life, family and friends pay for life as well. Minimum restitution for a death row inmate is $10,000. Not everyone is guilty either!
Families of these inmates can’t afford this debt and should not have to pay for it! If the CDC wants $10,000, put the prisoners to work so they can pay for their own debt. The family and friends already pay enough in grief, in taxes and in being forced to buy hygiene items for the inmate which the State does not adequately provide.
If you disagree with this restitution policy, please write to the CDC, a judge, a senator or someone! Make a difference! Take control! The Calif. Appellate Project helps most death row inmates. Write to them: 1 Ecker Place, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94105. You can call the CDC and let them know what you think about this policy: 1-800 374 8474.
*Note: Many general population inmates are dealing with the same restitution and garnishment problems.