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Sydney Kamlager
Sydney Kamlager. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Bill To Drastically Increase Prison Release Funds For Prisoners Introduced in Senate

SB 1304 would increase the amount of gate money given to prisoners from $200 to $2,590

By Evan Symon, February 19, 2022 2:46 am

A bill to increase the amount of “gate money” given to prisoners upon release from prison from $200 to $2,590 was introduced to the Senate on Friday.

Senate Bill 1304, authored by Senator Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), would increase the amount of gate money given for the first time since 1973. Gate money, which is currently given via a debit card, is expected to go to travel costs home, first meals out of prison, clothing, and other needs. While $200 is the maximum and most commonly given, those serving shorter sentences are often given less. California also currently gives the highest amount for released prisoners. Most states currently give only around $50 upon release, with other sums ranging from $100 given in states like Colorado and Texas to $10 in Louisiana and Alabama to even $0 in New Hampshire.

The $200 that was set in 1973 was equivalent to $1,2000 today. However, Senator Kamlager set the $2,590 amount by putting in federal averages for food and housing through MIT’s Living Wage Calculator to get the average monthly expenses for a single adult with no children this year. SB 1304 stipulated that the amount would only start there, with gate money to increase with inflation starting in 2024.

Kamlager wrote the bill due to her belief that $200 doesn’t cover many expenses after release from prison and that raising it would help correct economic justice and help keep just released prisoners from committing any crimes in the crucial 72 hours after release from prison and to keep costs from piling up too fast for those reentering society. Kamlager also received letters from prisoners saying how hard it was to make it outside of prison with just $200.

“Too often we overlook–or worse, criminalize–the plight of Californians who are working to make ends meet,” said Kamlager on Friday. “We let criminal records hinder the ability of formerly incarcerated individuals to find jobs and allow parents to be separated from their children based on weak standards of proof. Now is the time to stop criminalizing poverty and start prioritizing economic stability.”

“This is really about making sure that when people get out, we are not perpetuating a cycle of economic violence. We have got to stop legislating poverty.  The system perpetuates a fall deeper into desperation for folks who have just been released. In 2022, when the price for a gallon of gas in Los Angeles is almost $5, it is unconscionable that the state of California still gives just $200 in allowance for folks who are getting out of prison.”

However, many victim groups criticized the plan, noting that while some money to get prisoners home and to cover immediate expenses is needed, the amount quoted by Kamlager was way too much.

“California has the highest in the nation, and now they want to raise it by $2,400?! It’s crazy,” said Cindy Pruitt, a mother whose son was partially disabled by an attacker several years ago, to the Globe. “$200 is more than enough to get a bus ticket somewhere and any immediate expenses. You have to remember, these people are criminals. $2,600 isn’t money as a way to get some basic things done. That’s a substantial amount of money. And there’s so many places prisoners can turn to, like family, friends, charity organizations, job placements services, and other places.”

“Criminals shouldn’t be rewarded for leaving prison. Given enough to leave there and get some food? Sure. On your way. But $2,600 is a lot of money. You hurt people, so here’s a small fortune for paying your debt to society? That’s wrong. That’s not economic justice. That’s no kind of justice. Whoever came up with this is thinking academically and not realistically or with common sense.”

SB 1304 is expected to be heard in Senate committees soon.

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7 thoughts on “Bill To Drastically Increase Prison Release Funds For Prisoners Introduced in Senate

  1. Let’s compromise:

    Zero dollars *gate money*, and bring back the requirement that anyone paroled must be paroled to an address. No more homeless parole.

  2. Give them an extra $50 on an EBT card.
    This sounds like a bill sponsored by a drug cartel, as that is where most gate money
    is spent after release.
    Also, I agree, no more homeless parole.

  3. I think your to judgemental .You already convicted that person as being a lowlife .think about what you say nd clean your own closet before you try cleaning there’s.there condemned before they even hit the gate I SAY WE TRY TO TURN THESE PEOPL AROUND AND THEM A LITTLE SUPORT .

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