Palm Beach County lawmakers want to nix gate money fees for inmates after release

Democratic lawmakers file bills that would prohibit businesses from charging fees
Bobby Powell and Matt Willhite, filed companion bills to nix fees for inmates released
Posted at 3:47 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 15:48:45-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Two state lawmakers from Palm Beach County have filed bills that would prohibit certain businesses from charging former inmates a fee to cash checks they receive upon their release.

Florida Rep. Matt Willhite, D-Wellington, on Wednesday filed HB 279, while state Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, filed its companion bill, SB 464.

The bills are specific to gate money that inmates receive after being released from state prisons and county or municipal jails.

"The amount of money these discharged inmates receive is not enough to help them meet their basic needs," Willhite told in an email. "Yet when they withdraw their gate money, they are charged service fees. This bill removes a barrier to those who have done their time and are working to reintegrate back into society."

According to the language of the bills, fees could not be assessed at "a money services business."

Willhite said his hope "is that this bill not only makes it easier for returning citizens but starts a meaningful conversation about how to best help returning citizens contribute to our communities."

If passed, the law would take effect July 1.