The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has out-sourced fund-transfer services to a private Florida firm called JPay. As a result, persons on prisoner visiting lists can send money to prisoners only by sending the money to JPay for processing. This processing involves a “fee” which is withdrawn from the funds sent to prisoners.
This new procedure is virtually identical to the old procedure, except that now a private Florida company makes a huge profit conducting services that used to be performed by downsized Ohio employees.
Also, the procedure is completely unconstitutional and will result in many legal challenges– challenges that will cost Ohio tax-payers… although the Florida firm making huge profits will not suffer the loss of a single dime.
The first problem with the new procedure is that JPay’s “fee” for processing funds into prisoner accounts constitutes a tax. Because citizens are charged a fee to put funds on a prisoner’s account, it matters not whether that money is collected by an out-sourced company or the State directly– it is a fee collected for a public service.
That’s a tax.
And that’s illegal.
The Ohio Constitution delegates the power to tax only to the Ohio General Assembly, not to the ODRC or to Director Gary Mohr’s rich Florida golf-buddies looking to make a profit off of human bondage. Since the Ohio House and Senate never approved this tax, JPay’s service tax is illegal.
Not that legality matters. Why would you want someone charged with the duty of reforming Ohio’s offenders to abide by something called “law”? Clearly, Gary Mohr is nota role-model. And clearly, crime pays.
But an even more troubling aspect of this new procedure is that the ODRC has given Gary Mohr’s rich golf buddies access to the State’s information databases. That means approximately 750,000 citizens on Ohio prison population’s visiting lists will have their private information– addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, to convicted felons — accessed by complete strangers working for a Florida company, something these 750,000 citizens never approved, never consented to, and never signed up for.
As one prisoner’s visitor said, “I only sent required information to the Ohio prison so I could visit my husband. I didn’t know that my private information was going to be bundled iwth thousands of other people’s information and then handed over to some company where employees can steal my identity or profit off of selling that information. I feel betrayed. I don’t even know if this is legal.”
ODRC administrators have denied that JPay will have access to prisoner visitors’ private information, but this denial is directly conflicted by their own description of the process. According to the ODRC’s own postings, visitors sending funds to prisoners must send them to JPay along with a photocopy of their identification (which itself contains sensitive information that could be used for identity theft), and then JPay will compare that photocopy to the prisoner’s visiting list to confirm the visitor’s status before posting the funds.
That means JPay must have access to the visiting lists in order to make the comparison. So that means JPay does have access to 750,000 citizens’ private information without their consent. It also means the ODRC’s denials are a lie.
Again, these people are not role models.
But even if JPay didn’t have access to the database, they still require citizens to send photocopies of their state identification with every fund transfer, which means each person could have dozens or even hundreds of copies of their sensitive information floating around in the hands of data processors who were fired from Burger King for sniffing glue.
“Who else will they sell my address and social security number to?” a visitor asked. “And what will those people do with it? What stops a JPay worker from selling three quarters of a million names to identity pirates? And what kind of a clown slow is this prison director running, anyway?”
A profitable one, it seems– if you’re Gary Mohr’s Florida golf buddies.
Corrections Institution Inspection Committee
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Akron Beacon Journal
1 This may or may not have been written by Sean Swain, but the federal courts have given Ohio prison administrators free license to punish Swain for his published views beyond prison walls. Swain is exceptionally stripped of all constitutional protections, so whether he wrote this or not, and no one is saying he did, this will likely be posted at seanswain.org when it launches in the next 30 days. If Sean Swain wrote this, he meant every word.