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§25-1-3a. Trustee accounts and funds, earnings and personal property of inmates.

(a) The Commissioner of Corrections is authorized to establish at each institution under his or her jurisdiction a "Trustee Fund". The warden or administrator of each institution shall receive and take charge of the money and personal property, as defined by policy, of all inmates in his or her institution and all money or personal property, as defined by policy, sent to the inmates or earned by the inmates as compensation for work performed while they are domiciled there. The warden or administrator shall credit the money and earnings to the inmate entitled to it and shall keep an accurate account of all the money and personal property so received, which account is subject to examination by the Commissioner of Corrections. The warden or administrator shall deposit the moneys in one or more responsible banks in accounts to be designated a "Trustee Fund".

(b) For all inmates, except those serving life without mercy and those the warden determines are likely to serve the remainder of their natural lives in the custody of the Division of Corrections due to their age and the length of their sentences, the warden or administrator shall keep in an account at least ten percent of all money earned during the inmate's incarceration and pay the money to the inmate at the time of the inmate's release. The warden may authorize the inmate to withdraw money from his or her mandatory savings for the purpose of preparing the inmate for reentry into society.

(c) The Commissioner of Corrections may direct that offenders who work in community work programs, including work release inmates who have obtained employment, make reimbursement to the state toward the cost of his or her incarceration.

(d)(1) Prior to ordering an incarcerated offender to make reimbursement toward the costs of his or her incarceration, the commissioner, or his or her designee, shall consider the following:

(A) The offender's ability to pay;

(B) The nature and extent of the offender's responsibilities to his or her dependents, if any;

(C) The length of probable incarceration under the court's sentence; and

(D) The effect, if any, that reimbursement might have on the offender's rehabilitation.

(2) No order of reimbursement entered pursuant to this section may exceed $500 per month unless the offender gives his or her express consent.

(3) The Commissioner of Corrections shall, prior to the beginning of each fiscal year, prepare a report that details the average cost per inmate incurred by the division for the care and supervision of those individuals in his or her custody.

(e) The chief executive officer of any correctional institution, on request of an inmate, may expend up to one half of the money earned by the inmate on behalf of the family of the inmate if the ten percent mandatory savings has first been set aside and other fees owed by the inmate have been paid. The remainder of the money earned, after deducting amounts expended as authorized, shall be accumulated to the credit of the inmate and be paid to the inmate at times as may be prescribed by rules. The funds so accumulated on behalf of inmates shall be held by the chief executive officer of each institution under a bond approved by the Attorney General.

(f) The warden or administrator shall deliver to the inmate at the time he or she leaves the institution, or as soon as practicable after departure, all personal property, moneys and earnings then credited to the inmate, or in case of the death of the inmate before authorized release from the institution, the warden or administrator shall deliver the property to the inmate's personal representative. In case a conservator is appointed for the inmate while he or she is domiciled at the institution, the warden or administrator shall deliver to the conservator, upon proper demand, all moneys and personal property belonging to the inmate that are in the custody of the warden or administrator.

(g) If any money is credited to a former inmate after remittance of the sum of money as provided in subsection (f), the Commissioner shall notify the former inmate within thirty days of receipt of the money. The former inmate will be afforded the opportunity to collect the money if he or she pays the cost of the transaction. If the former inmate does not claim the money within thirty days of receiving the notice and the sum of money is less than $10, the Commissioner may place the money into the inmate benefit fund.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2017 Regular Session
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