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OLYMPIA – The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed Senator Claire Wilson’s (D-Auburn) legislation to ensure all money sent to incarcerated individuals for commissary purchases reaches them.  

People incarcerated in Washington prisons must pay money for items from the commissary. This includes basic needs items like soap, toothpaste, deodorant, as well as foods to supplement their caloric intake.  

Many work to pay for those items, but many more are reliant on families and friends to provide that financial support.  

Money that comes from outside sources is currently subjected to high deductions by the Department of Corrections, and only a fraction of those funds actually ends up in an individual’s account.  

In some circumstances, families must transfer $900 for an incarcerated individual to have $100 available in their commissary account.  

Senate Bill 5131 seeks to exempt money for commissary items from the current required deductions.  

“No one inside our correctional institutions should be unable to buy soap and toothpaste because of the way our systems are built,” said Sen. Wilson. “Our current system places strain on families. This is counterproductive because we know that having a strong family support system on the outside is key to reducing recidivism upon release.”  

SB 5131 now heads to the House for consideration.