Friday, February 27, 2009

How Do I Put Money On An Inmate's Books?

"My husband is locked up at the House of Corrections. How do I put money on his books?"

The House of Corrections is a local, Philadelphia County jail. You can go directly to the jail at 8001 State Road and submit either cash or a postal money order (with your husband's photo number, sometimes called a PP number or PPN) and the jail will credit your husband's jail account. Inmates are not permitted to have actual cash, which is considered contraband, but they can use their inmate accounts, or 'books', to shop at the prison commissary or to send away for lawful products and merchandise.

You can also mail a postal money order to the jail. Mail the letter directly to your husband, with his photo number next to his name, just like any other letter you would send. The jail opens inmate mail to check for contraband, and will remove the money order and place the funds on his books.

Be sure not to send cash to the jail through the mail. Also, make sure you fill out the money order with your husband's name AND his photo number. If you fail to put the photo number on the money order, it will probably be rejected and returned to you.

If your husband has a bank account which is not a joint bank account with you, the bank won't let you withdraw money without obtaining a power of attorney. Each bank has its own power of attorney forms, and a standard POA form will be rejected. There's some footwork involved if the only money to put on his books is from such an account. You'd have to mail him a power of attorney, have him sign it and have it notarized, then return it to you. Then you would file it with the bank, and a few days later, you'll be able to withdraw the cash. At Hochberg, Levin & Zeiger, we have gone through this process on behalf of clients without local family. It is a somewhat time-consuming process, but it isn't difficult.

By Brian J. Zeiger

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