Fortune Society Wants Commissary Funds Rightfully Returned, Reported by the Observer

Posted on May 10, 2018

How New York City Plans to Return $3.5 Million to Former Inmates

Originally Posted in the Observer on May 9, 2018
Written by Madina Toure

“If your family has spent their hard-earned money [on] you, when you leave prison, you should [have] access to it. The city shouldn’t be taking it and… putting it in a general fund,” Richards, chairman of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety, told Observer at a Council meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

In March, The New York Daily News reported that roughly 180,000 former city inmates forgot to ask for the money left in their commissary accounts. The DOC confirmed to Observer that there is $3.5 million in unclaimed commissary funds.

JoAnne Page, president and CEO of Fortune Society, a nonprofit organization established in 1967 to assist and advocate for formerly incarcerated individuals, told Observer that Fortune sees roughly 7,000 people a year who are either recently released from jail or prison or have been out or a while and are trying to rebuild their lives.

“This is important,” Page said. “This is about fairness. It’s about making sure that people get their own money back when they get released.”

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