inmate trust fund

Inmate Trust Fund

Navigating the world of prison and inmate finances can be confusing and overwhelming. One common topic that comes up is the concept of an inmate trust fund. If you’re wondering what this is, how it works, and why it’s important, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll delve into the ins and outs of inmate trust funds and provide a comprehensive understanding of their purpose and function.

What is an Inmate Trust Fund?

An inmate trust fund is a financial account managed by a correctional facility on behalf of an incarcerated individual. The primary purpose of these funds is to provide a secure and transparent way for inmates to receive, save, and spend money during their incarceration.

Purpose of Inmate Trust Funds

Benefits for Inmates

Inmate trust funds serve several essential purposes for incarcerated individuals. They allow inmates to:

  1. Receive financial support from family and friends.
  2. Save money for use during their incarceration and upon release.
  3. Purchase items and services from the prison commissary or other approved vendors.
  4. Pay for fees and fines associated with their case or incarceration.

Benefits for Correctional Facilities

Correctional facilities also benefit from inmate trust funds in several ways, including:

  1. Reducing the risk of contraband and illegal activities by providing a controlled and monitored financial system.
  2. Encouraging responsible financial behavior and promoting rehabilitation.
  3. Streamlining the management of inmate finances and transactions.
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How to Add Money to an Inmate’s Trust Fund

There are several ways to deposit money into an inmate’s trust fund, each with its own advantages and limitations.

Online Deposits

Many correctional facilities partner with third-party websites to facilitate online deposits into inmate trust funds. These websites often allow deposits using credit or debit cards and may charge a service fee.

Phone Deposits

Some facilities enable deposits over the phone through an automated system or a customer service representative. Like online deposits, phone deposits may require a service fee.

Mail Deposits

Inmates’ family and friends can often send money orders or cashier’s checks through the mail. This method may be slower and less convenient, but it typically does not require a service fee.

In-Person Deposits

Some facilities allow in-person deposits at designated locations. These may include on-site kiosks or approved off-site retail locations. Service fees may apply, and the process may be subject to specific rules and restrictions.

Using the Inmate Trust Fund

Purchasing Items

Inmates can use their trust fund to purchase items from the prison commissary, which usually offers a variety of products such as food, clothing, personal hygiene items, and stationery. The commissary acts as a store where inmates can shop for items not provided by the facility, which helps them maintain a degree of personal autonomy and comfort.

Paying for Services

In addition to purchasing items, inmates can use their trust fund to pay for various services offered within the facility. These may include phone calls, email access, educational courses, or even healthcare services, depending on the institution’s policies and available resources.

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Transferring Funds

In some cases, inmates may be allowed to transfer funds from their trust account to another inmate’s account or to an outside account. However, this process is often subject to strict rules and regulations to prevent abuse or illegal activities.

Restrictions and Limitations

Inmate trust funds come with certain restrictions and limitations to ensure security and proper use. These may include:

  1. Limits on the amount of money that can be deposited or withdrawn within a specific period.
  2. Restrictions on the types of items and services that can be purchased.
  3. Monitoring and control of transactions to prevent fraud or illegal activities.


Inmate trust funds play a vital role in providing incarcerated individuals with a secure and transparent financial system during their time behind bars. These funds allow inmates to receive support from loved ones, purchase essential items, and pay for services while also benefiting correctional facilities by reducing the risk of contraband and promoting responsible financial behavior. Understanding the purpose, function, and limitations of inmate trust funds is crucial for anyone with a loved one in prison or those interested in the broader topic of inmate finances.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can an inmate access their trust fund after being released?

Upon release, any remaining balance in an inmate’s trust fund is typically returned to them, either through a check or a direct deposit to their personal bank account.

2. Are there fees associated with using an inmate trust fund?

There may be fees associated with depositing money into an inmate’s trust fund, especially for online or phone deposits. Additionally, some services or purchases made using the trust fund may come with fees or surcharges.

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3. Can an inmate’s trust fund be seized to pay for restitution, child support, or other court-ordered payments?

Yes, it’s possible for an inmate’s trust fund to be garnished to satisfy court-ordered financial obligations. The exact process and rules for this vary by jurisdiction and facility.

4. Are inmate trust funds subject to taxes?

Inmate trust funds are generally not considered taxable income. However, interest earned on the account may be subject to taxes, depending on the specific circumstances.

5. Can an inmate’s trust fund be accessed by creditors or seized in a lawsuit?

While laws and regulations vary by jurisdiction, inmate trust funds are generally protected from seizure by creditors or in civil lawsuits. Exceptions may exist for court-ordered financial obligations such as restitution or child support.

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