Arizona Is Charging People To Visit Prisoners

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A new Arizona law that charges visitors to state prisons a one-time $25 fee is being challenged as unconstitutional.

The law went into effect July 20. It requires visitors at 15 state prisons to pay the fee for background checks. But the money actually gets deposited into a building renewal fund.

The Middle Ground Prison Reform has sued the state Department of Corrections seeking to have the fee declared a tax and any money paid so far returned to visitors.

The group says it believes the fee is unique among states.

Corrections officials deny allegations that it targets vulnerable groups and that it’s unconstitutional. They say the fees will help ensure inmate safety.

Some 30,000 people visit prison inmate each year, but the law includes some exceptions to the fee.

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