Federal prisoners are provided with a trust fund upon their incarceration, into which they can put any money they have. Friends and family can make deposits as well. If a prisoner obtains a job while behind bars, any money they make is placed into the account. When they are released, any money they had in their trust fund is placed on a non-reloadable Chase debit card.
Plaintiff Jesse Krimes, who was released from the Federal Correctional Institution at Fairton in New Jersey in September 2013, was given a Chase debit card containing the balance of his trust fund. It came with a one-page sheet explaining how to activate the card, as well as a “card fee schedule.” The words “NON-RELOADABLE” were stamped on the back.
Former prisoners like Krimes were charged 45 cents for balance inquiries and 10 dollars to withdraw money at a bank teller window. They were charged two dollars for using a non-network ATM.
Chase told cardholders the ATM fee would be waived once for each deposit they made, however, the cards were non-reloadable, rendering the fee-waiver moot. If a releasee didn’t use their card, they incurred an “inactivity” fee of $1.50 each month. As the lawsuit notes, these fees bore no relation to any costs incurred by Chase.