Everyone has an account with their money in it. This account is split up into 4 parts:
(1) Spend Account: you can use this at the shop or canteen
(2) Set-Aside Account: you can transfer money to this so you have funds for a special spend item, like runners
(3) Withheld Account: this is a compulsory savings account
(4) Phone Account: where the money for your phone calls is kept.
You can ask, and the prison must give you, a print out of all your accounts every month. The prison can take money from all of your accounts to pay for prison fines and to pay for any damage you cause to prison property.
Spend and Set-Aside Account
The prison will make some money available to you each week as wages if you are working, or on medical or even unemployed. You can also have money sent in. In all prisons you can have $140 private money sent in each month by someone on your visit list. Have it sent in a Money Order from the Post Office and have your people put their name and address on the back of the Money Order or envelope, if you don’t you will not get it.
You can request to send money out from your Spend Account. There is a form to fill out and you need to provide an addressed envelope with a stamp on it. You must have a good reason why you want to send the money out, like that you have obligations to your partner to help with bills and other living expenses, especially if you have children. You can’t send money to another prisoner or their people.
The prison must withhold 20% of your wages each week for a compulsory savings account. You will be paid this money on your release, a little in cash and the rest in a cheque. You can access the Withheld Account for certain reasons linked to your needs on release, but access is very limited.
If you have people on the outside that rely on you helping them, like your partner or elderly parents, and if they have bills that they are struggling to pay, you can ask for access to your Withheld Account. If your family is your support network, and they will be supporting you on release and helping with your transition to a crime-free life, and there is an expectation that you help them at a particular time they would be a good reason to access your Withheld Account but put it in those terms. You will need to provide a copy of the bill as the money will go to the agency and not the person.
If you go to the Judy Lazarus Transitional Centre you can use your Withheld Account money there for your expenses. And you can use some of your Withheld Account money on a day leave, but again access is very limited.
At Port Phillip Prison you can have $50 sent in extra for the phone each month. But at many government-run prisons you have to make a request to have the extra $50 for the phone and they do not always approve it, so you will need to have a good reason why you need the extra. A good reason would be that your people live interstate or overseas, or you can only make calls during the day when the STD rate is high, or there is a family crisis that you need to deal with by supporting people with phone calls.
This fact sheet contains general information only and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice. If you would like advice regarding a specific problem please contact one of the legal services listed in contacts or contact the Law Institute of Victoria’s Legal Referral Service on 9607 9311.