By JOSEPH HAMRICK
Instead of being handed a check for any money they’ve earned while in the Hunt County Criminal Justice Center, former inmates will now receive a debit card upon release.
Under the new system, run through Keefe Commissary, inmates will be issued pre-loaded MasterCard debit cards and have 36 hours to pull the money off of the cards before a weekly fee is charged.
According to Chief Deputy Rock McDonald, who presented the new system before the Hunt County Commissioner’s Court on Tuesday, the sheriff’s department is switching to the new form to help save the county money and for security reasons.
McDonald said since checks have the department’s banking routing and account number printed on them, individuals could potentially make photo copies of the checks, and added that if an inmate has his card stolen or lost, “we can turn off the debit card at any time.”
According to McDonald, some inmates are released around holiday seasons. This means that banks are closed making it impossible for former inmates to pull money out of the bank until after the holiday.
“For some inmates coming in with $50, that’s all they have to live on,” he said.
Some checks in the past have been made out to inmates who brought in small change that is $3 or less. McDonald said many inmates choose not to cash these checks, since the charge to cash would cost the same as the check itself.
This has led to uncashed checks from the department that the department cannot claim.
“Unclaimed funds is a problem for us,” he said, adding that the new system would help the department’s budget.
The department is set to switch to the new system in February.