Money for Nothing

ANNE

Today, June 26, is United Nations Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Today also marks one year since Vince entered prison.

My organization will host a potluck supper at our clinic in St. Paul. We’re supposed to call it a healing center, not a clinic. It’s in an old renovated Victorian home. I think it’s actually Edwardian, but in Minnesota, we call everything “Victorian,” if it’s more than 100 years old. You can take a virtual tour of it if you like, or you can take a physical tour if you live in the area.

You would think I’d be used to dealing with the corrections system by now, but it still has the ability to throw me off guard. First, in keeping with my accidental theme of critiquing every word, why can’t we call it the prison system? Just what are they “correcting”? I have an image of them straightening out Vince’s limbs and brain with ratchets and wrenches.

On June 23 I got the following message from the corrections system email provider:

This email is to inform you that effective June 30, 2015 the Minnesota Department of Corrections will no longer utilize CorrLinks for inmate message transfers. The MNDOC agency option will no longer be available effective June 30th.

If you would like to request a refund of your balance you may do so by removing all of your contacts and closing your account.

Sincerely,

CorrLinks Support

I so wish I could be an emotional ninja all the time—ducking serenely to avoid upsetting news like this—but instead I flipped out.

UNBELIEVABLE! was my immediate reaction. CorrLinks is the one thing about the entire MNDOC that has actually worked. It’s affordable, simple, and it’s the one effing way I could reliably communicate with Vince.

I assumed they had found another vendor that would cost five times more and was owned by the warden’s brother in law. Or were they just going to discontinue the email option completely? What a joke.

I checked the DOC website and it had no information about the change. So I called the them. The person who answered knew nothing about it. She put me on hold and when she came back read me a memo she had managed to track down that said the same thing as the email. But it did go on to say there would be a new system called J Pay. (I wonder if J is for Jail?)

It will cost 40 cents per message instead of 30. Okay, I guess I can afford that.

I currently have a $4 balance with Corrlinks. Am I going to bother requesting a refund? Hell no! I’ll bombard Vince with emails—articles from the Atlantic are good for using up words.

But I bet there will be thousands of people who don’t ask for refunds.  Let’s face it, one week’s notice is not very much, especially for wives of prisoners who are working full time and have kids.  So let’s say there are even 1,000 people who leave $4 on the table. That’s a cool $4,000 for Corrlinks, or for the DOC.   In fact, I wonder if they switch systems every now and then just to get some quick cash.

Oh I am so cynical!  Probably the money will be donated to some prison-related charity, right?

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