Kelly, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison this year for sex trafficking, fought to keep the money after the Washington Post reported last month that he was keeping thousands of dollars in the Bureau of prison when he owed $140,000 in court. fines, including a $40,000 penalty for a fund for victims of trafficking. Shortly after this story was published, prosecutors decided to seize Kelly’s jail money.
U.S. District Court Judge Ann M. Donnelly agreed in a written notice Friday, ordering the Bureau of Prisons to send a check for $27,828.24 to the clerk of federal court in New York, where Kelly — who is on trial in Chicago for additional charges – was found guilty.
Donnelly’s decision comes as senior Justice Department officials debate changes to longstanding Bureau of Prisons rules governing prisoner money, which current and former law enforcement officials say protect funds from any review and prevent victims from receiving the payments owed to them. The Prison Account system, which allows inmates to spend money on things like snacks, emails, and phone calls, also helps pay for many jobs at the Bureau of Prisons. Last year it generated $82 million for the office’s operating budget, funding for 625 positions, according to agency documents.
Boston Marathon Bomber Funds Considered
For years, the Bureau of Prisons has argued that whatever balance inmates may have in their accounts, they should only be required to pay a minimum of $25 every three months for any restitution to victims. ordered by the court.
After publishing stories about inmates who kept large balances while paying their victims little – including Boston Marathon suicide bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and former US gym doctor Larry Nassar – Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said ordered a review of Bureau of Prisons policy last year. This review is ongoing.
In the Tsarnaev and Nassar cases, prosecutors filed court documents to force the Bureau of Prisons to hand over detainees. silver.
This summer, the bureau argued that inmates shouldn’t have to lose more than 25% of the money in their accounts because taking more could threaten jobs or safety inside federal prisons, according to reports. people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the internal deliberations.
Other Justice Department officials have pushed back on the proposal, arguing that inmates should not be allowed to protect three-quarters of their money from court-ordered payments. Under the 25% limit, Kelly, for example, would have to return about $7,000 from his jail account, keeping around $21,000.
US prison officials resist inmates paying more in court-ordered fees
Inmates can keep as much money as they want in the accounts and can transfer money elsewhere by check or money order. The total amount on deposit in inmate accounts soared last year to more than $140 million, largely due to government checks for pandemic relief.
As of 2021, more than 20 inmates had more than $100,000 each in their accounts, according to records reviewed by The Post.
One of the reasons inmates may store large sums of money in their accounts is that it may be difficult for convicted persons to obtain a traditional bank account. But prisoners are only allowed to spend around $400 a month on their commissary accounts, and critics of the system say some inmates appear to be using it to shield far larger sums from scrutiny.
Although the Bureau of Prisons maintains accounts for inmates and issues checks and money transfers from these accounts on their behalf, it does not consider itself a financial institution. It also does not handle banking transactions through a Treasury Department screening program meant to flag unpaid debts, officials said.