Irish Penal Reform Trust

New BillPay service for families of people in prison

8th May 2020

Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has announced a new service that allows a prisoner’s family to transfer money at the counter in any one of An Post’s 950 post offices to their relative in prison, who can then spend the money in the prison tuck shop on items such as newspapers, magazines and toiletries. This initiative will ensure that prisoners can still have access to funds for tuck shop purchases, despite the cancellation of family visits, where many family members would have lodged money to prisoners' accounts.

Anybody in prison who wishes to participate can nominate one family member who will receive a BIllPay Card in the post. The nominated person can then bring the BillPay Card to their local post office and make a payment by cash or debit card. The service is private and confidential as the nature and destination of the transaction is masked, protecting both the payee and the recipient.

While the service offers clear benefits to people in prison, it will also make a substantial difference to their family members. During COVID-19, it will bring comfort to families to know that their loved one in prison has access to financial supports and is not going without their usual toiletries etc, despite no longer having access to visits. Beyond COVID-19, this initiative will change the lives of many family members of people in prison. Family members often travel long distances to prisons in order to lodge money into their loved one's account. This collaboration between An Post and the Irish Prison Service will reduce unnecessary travel and save money.

The new payment option was introduced in post offices this week and is currently being rolled out throughout the prison system.

To read more about the initiative, read the Department of Justice & Equality press release here

For more on how the service will work and information on how to participate, visit the Irish Prison Service website here

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.

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