Arizona’s prison background fee stands

The Arizona Court of Appeals, on Tuesday, sided with the State legislature’s 2011 measure, A.R.S. 41-1604(B)(3), which requires prison inmate visitors to pay a one-time fee for background checks. The Court found that the fee is constitutional.

Arizona lawmakers authorized the Department of Corrections to charge a $25 fee for visitors to Arizona’s prisons, which according to prison officials does not even cover the cost of the background checks.

The plaintiffs in the case claimed that the fee was not being used to pay for background checks, but instead for building renewal and maintenance. They claimed that use made the fee unconstitutional. The Court disagreed and said that nothing prevented the fee from being used for any other Department expense.

“The legislature has a legitimate interest in recovering some of the costs that inmate visitors impose on the prison system,” wrote Judge Michael Brown.

The judge noted that the “Hamms conceded in the superior court, however, that if the $25 charge is a fee, then the statute and fee are permissible.”