Legislature Advances Bill Requiring Inmates to Save Money

Proposal would require inmates to save percentage of money earned in prison

By Molly Priddy

HELENA — Senators have endorsed a proposal to require working inmates to save a certain amount of their earnings.

Senators voted 47-3 to support an amended version of Senate Bill 101 that the House passed last week.

Inmate accounts already exist to help repay court fees, restitution and other costs while in jail. As amended and passed by the House, Democratic Sen. Robyn Driscoll’s proposal would require up to 25 percent of the money an inmate earns while in the state prison to be saved and overseen by the Department of Corrections.

Once a working inmate is released, the department would dispense the required savings to the person’s landlord, service providers or other recipients the department approves.

The bill must pass a final vote in the Senate before heading to Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.