Courthouse News Service reported on Wednesday (June 8) that, “adding insult to injury,” banking giant Chase adds fees to the cards that it provides to federal prisoners — so much so that the cards are, in fact, useless outside of prison. The allegations come through a class-action suit of former inmates, reported the site.
The suit comes from a group with lead plaintiff Brett Sheib, via a 32-page complaint that has been filed with the Brooklyn Federal Court. The group alleges that it was impossible to access money once these former inmates were outside the confines of prison.
The fees levied on the cards prove to be onerous when netted against the $0.17 an hour earned by inmates, in addition to the funds contributed to the cards by friends and family members. JPMorgan, the suit alleges, remains “the exclusive provider of funds disbursement services to releases — a role it won in a secretive, no-bid process through which it entered into a contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” the lawsuit claims. The inmates also had no ability to opt out of those fees, said the plaintiffs.
Among the fees: $1.50 per month for the former inmates who access and use their cards. There are also fees for not using the cards, using ATMs that do not belong to Chase and attempting to turn the debit cards in to get cash at the bank.
Sheib and the group are seeking damages from the bank on the grounds of unjust enrichment and violations of state and national laws.