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Offender Obligations and Withdrawals - Institutions and Facilities

Attachment D - OBS Obligation Deduction Matrix (Facilities & Institutions)Offender fund balances in the OBS accounting system and certain income deposits are reduced to pay existing and/or new offender debts, pay institutional levied restitution and fines as a result of an offender disciplinary action and to make canteen purchases. When an offender’s “available draw” is insufficient to immediately pay the offender’s entire debt an OBS obligation will be established by the Trust Fund Officer or automatically by the OBS system depending upon the nature of the obligation. Canteen sales will not normally allow an offender’s available balance to be reduced below zero. When obligations are created in OBS they will remain active until the obligation is either satisfied, the offender is discharged/paroled, or is otherwise released from the obligation by some system action. All obligations entered into OBS have a status of “active”, “inactive” or “fulfilled” and are retained indefinitely by the system.

Withdrawal Entry vs. Obligation Manager
When establishing obligations in OBS, users should use the Offender Withdrawal Entry screen if money is to be immediately withdrawn from the offender’s account. In most instances, if sufficient funds are not in the offender’s available balance, the system will create an obligation for the remaining amount owed.

Use the Offender Obligation Manager screen when “recurring withdrawals” are to be taken from future deposits (example: PLRA and State Court Costs). When using this screen to setup the obligation, money will only be immediately removed from the offender’s account when the user enters an amount to be immediately withdrawn when saving the obligation.

Use of Encumbrances
Staff may want to establish an encumbrance using the Offender Encumbrance screen when uncertainty exist as to the actual offender debt – such as a potential institutional debt.

Offender Obligations and Deduction Priority
O.S. 22, chapter 1, section 17, prescribes the following order for the establishment of offender obligations:

1. Restitution,

2. Fines and Court costs,

3. Other payments ordered in the sentence,

4. Costs and expenses of incarceration.

System deduction priorities in the OBS are designed to pay claims against the offender’s “available balance” that are authorized by statute or department policy and are deducted in a priority order based on specific system defined rules. Obligations can be deducted from offender payroll and/or outside deposits depending upon the nature of the obligation and the statutes/policies governing the obligation. Attachment D lists those offender obligations for facility housed offenders deduction categories currently established in OBS as authorized by statute or policy. Attachment E list those obligations and payments on behalf of offenders in supervised status based on statute or policy. Obligation deductions for offenders in supervised status are discussed in the Restitution Accounting section of this guide.

Court Ordered Sanctions
Court sanction obligations in OBS are generally for attorney fees and costs ordered by the court as a sanction for an offender filing a frivolous or malicious lawsuit. Income deductions are entered into OBS at the rate specified in the court order and deducted from all funds deposited in an offender's trust account until the debt is paid.

PLRA (Prison Litigation Reform Act) Obligations
Trust fund officers will comply with OP-030115 “Access to Courts/Law Library” (funds will be first deducted from the offenders draw then, when exhausted, mandatory savings will be used) for deducting offender initiated legal filing fees of civil and criminal cases (defined in O.S. 28 section 151 et. seq. or for a federal action as defined in 28 U.S.C. § 1911 et. seq.). When all offender resources are consumed, the offender may petition the court to proceed “In Forma Pauperis.”

Entering PLRA Obligations into OBS
When a court approves “In Forma Pauperis” business office staff will:

1. Transfer sufficient funds (if required) from the offender’s mandatory savings balance to the offender’s available balance using the “Offender’s Saving Manager” screen to pay the initial court ordered filing fee payment.

2. The PLRA obligation itself will be created using the “Offender Obligation Manager” screen with a withdrawal type of “PLRA.” If sufficient funds are not available using all available resources staff will, when asked by the OBS system for an “initial payment amount” when saving the obligation, enter an amount equal to the court required initial payment. Entering the full PLRA court ordered initial payment at this time will have the system create two obligations: (1) one for the initial court required filing fee payment and (2) one for a monthly PLRA payment.

3. OBS will immediately attempt to satisfy the initial payment obligation by withdrawing from the offender’s available balance sufficient funds to meet that initial payment (this is the reason for doing a savings transfer first). If sufficient funds are not available an obligation will be created for the difference with 100 % of any future outside income source and 80% of the offender’s future payroll (the 20% mandatory savings auto-deduction will still occur) appropriately system attached until such time as the full initial payment requirement is met.

4. Monthly “PLRA” payment obligations in OBS, as defined by the court, are “system encumbered” based on federal and state statutory guidelines from both offender outside source income and offender pay but only at a deduction percentage of 20%. These guidelines require that a minimum of $10 remain in the offender’s account when a monthly payment is made to the court.

• The OBS system monthly check the offender’s “Total Account Balance” at the start of the month and if at least $10 does not exist in the offender’s account, it will release the prior month’s system encumbered funds and not make a monthly PLRA payment to the court. This process will continue until at least a $10 offender account balance is computed.

Do not confuse “initial PLRA payments” with recurring “monthly PLRA payments.” Initial PLRA payments, when established using the above process, are not subject to the statutory “system encumbrance” $10 account balance limitation and will be paid using any and all available balance resources. Creating the PLRA obligations as described above will ensure “In Forma Pauperis” payments comply with both federal and state statutory requirements.

State Court Costs and Fines
State court ordered costs are those fees, fines and other obligations levied by the court at the time of an offender’s incarceration. Case managers are responsible for notifying facility business office staff of all outstanding offender court costs and fines. Court obligations will be established in OBS by the trust fund officer and funds withdrawn at a ten percent rate of the offender’s net pay (work release, prison industries, agri-services or gang pay).

Business staff will enter the court case number into the Obligation Manager Screen as the “Source Doc #” – example: “CRF YYYY – XXXXX” where YYYY refers to the year of the case and XXXXX refers to the case number. The OBS system will only take a deduction for one court cost obligation at a time based upon the age of the obligation.

Child Support Enforcement
O.S. 12, section 1171.2, “Child Support Payments – Garnishment” prescribes the process for child support enforcement collection. Paragraph b of this title specifies the rates and income subject to child support enforcement by saying:

“B. The maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of any person for any workweek which is subject to garnishment or income assignment for the support of a minor child shall not exceed:

1. Fifty percent (50%) of such person's disposable earnings for that week, if such person is supporting his spouse or a dependent child other than the child with respect to whose support such order is used; and

2. Sixty percent (60%) of such person's disposable earnings for that week if such person is not supporting a spouse or dependent child.”

It is the opinion of the department’s General Counsel that the department will collect court ordered child support if the department is in receipt of an income assignment order from the court. Collections against the child support income assignment will have a priority order just behind federal and state court ordered obligations and after the withdrawal of the statutorily mandated 20% offender savings. The department’s General Counsel has further indicated that only incentive pay and work release income are subject to child support enforcement collection at the 60% collection level.

OBS Child Support obligation maintenance values are set up to follow this deduction schedule with 60% set at the deduction percentage and only offender payroll subject to deduction. Business managers should evaluate the offender’s court ordered child support document to confirm the court has entered an income assignment on the enforcement order. If so, then the department will collect and remit to the appropriate payee that portion of the ordered income assignment based on OBS system obligation maintenance values.

If an income assignment is not specifically stated on the court order, then the child support order is an offender obligation but it will not be result in O.S. 12, section 1171.2 ordered garnishment. Contact the General Counsel’s office when a question arises as to whether an income assignment is part of the court order.

Child Support Enforcement Order – Institutional Housed Offenders
If a child support enforcement order is received while the offender is incarcerated at the institutional level business office staff will confirm the income assignment and then enter the obligation using the OBS Offender Obligation Manager screen with an obligation type of “Child Support.”

1. Maximum Amount Owed Field: Multiply the monthly income assignment identified in the court order times 12 months times the expected length of time until the youngest child turns 21 as the “original amount owed.” Example: $150/month x 12 months x 10 years = $18,000 owed

2. Maximum Monthly Payment Field: Use the monthly income assignment identified in the court order as the “maximum monthly payment”.

3. Do not change the OBS default monthly payment percentage regardless of the income assignment order. This is a system defined value based on statute and General Counsel guidance.

Child Support Enforcement Order – Work Release Offenders
There are two acceptable approaches for handling child support enforcement orders for offenders in work release status.

1. Enter the child support enforcement order into OBS as described above. If so entered into OBS, child support enforcement will collected as described above with mandatory program support collections based on net income after payment of the child support.

2. Forward the child support enforcement order to the offender’s work release employer for pay garnishment.

a. If an OBS child support obligation has already been establish in OBS, the obligation will have to be reduced to amounts already paid to prevent double garnishment on the offender’s income.

b. If the obligation does not already exist in OBS then the obligation will not be entered into the system since it is being forwarded to the work release employer for collection.

Court Ordered Garnishments
Garnishments will only be entered into OBS when a specific court order exists. There are two garnishment categories created in OBS depending on the income assignment of the garnishment. Deduction percentages can be adjusted based on court order.

Garnishment
Use this OBS obligation category when the court order requires income assignment against all offender income types. System maintenance values for this obligation type are:

Deduction percentage default = 100%
Income subject to deduction = payroll + outside source

Garnishment – Payroll Only
Use this OBS obligation category when the court order only attaches an income assignment against offender pay. System maintenance values for this obligation type are:

Deduction percentage default = 50%
Income subject to deduction = payroll

Program Support Fees
Cost of incarceration is offset through the collection of program support fees as authorized by O.S. 57, section 549. This fee is only assessed on work release private sector pay, private industry enhancement (PIE) payroll checks, and eligible temporary total disability benefit payments as described in this guide. The program support fee computation is automatically computed by OBS based on the lesser of 50% of the system credited net wages (defined as gross pay less taxes and employer paid child support) or the number of applied payroll days times the community based per diem rate.

Facility Obligations and Co-pays
Department obligations are created in OBS to recognize an offender’s debt related to specific department levied costs when the offender’s available balance is insufficient to immediately pay the incurred debt. Facility obligations and co-pays should initially be entered into OBS as an “Offender Withdrawal.”

Obligations result from medical, legal and postage co-pays, fines and institutional debt, and special order medical equipment orders when the offender does not have sufficient funds to immediately pay the debt. Obligations will not exceed the authorized amount of the co-pay, fine, special order or the replacement value of the item/s destroyed, damaged, or missing. 

Obligations for co-pays, fines and levied institutional debts are specifically defined in policy. When questions arise about the nature of the obligation, users are to refer to the appropriate department policy that defines the institutional debt. Co-pays help offset the cost of providing services such as ambulance/doctor’s fee, pharmacy prescriptions, and postage related to returning outside offender income where either the facility head disallowed the deposit or the sender did not complete a required Offender Deposit Slip. Institutional debt reimburses the department for damage to done to state property done by an offender and can be use to recapture overpayment of gang pay. Fines levied against an offender are the result of administrative action.

An offender obligation report will be provided to an offender when requested.

Facility Obligations

Administrative Sanctions - Fines
Attachment A “Range of Allowable Sanctions” of OP-060125 “Department Offender Disciplinary Procedures” prescribes the allowed administrative sanctions. It lists fines for a Class A of $10 and Class B of $5.

Administrative Sanctions - Restitution
Restitution may be imposed when monetary loss was incurred as a result of an infraction, but will not exceed the actual amount of the replacement value of the item/s destroyed, damaged, or missing. Restitution may also be imposed for the cost of providing a service such as ambulance or doctor’s fees.

A footnote to OP-060125 Attachment A, says if restitution is imposed as a sanction, the funds may be collected from the offender’s draw account at a rate not to exceed 50% of the deposits made to the account. Documentation will be provided to the offender verifying how the amount of restitution was determined. Restitution for personnel services will not be assessed. OBS users will use the withdrawal type of “Institutional Debt” when creating an obligation for this type of department restitution.

Birth Certificates
OP-060203 “Adjustment Review”, under facility periodic review, requires of offenders to have two valid forms of identification, one of which must be a social security card. Often, the other form of identification sought is an offender birth certificate. When a birth certificate is required, business staff will do an offender withdrawal for the cost of acquiring a birth certificate. If the offender does not have a sufficient available balance to cover the cost of the birth certificate OBS will allow the offender’s “available balance” to go ‘negative balance.’ If the offender is indigent under the conditions described in the “Indigent Offender Status” section of this guide, then cost of the birth certificate will be paid out of the Welfare & Recreation Budget Fund 205.

• When an offender’s account has a ‘negative’ available balance, OBS will immediate use any additional future deposits to move the offender’s account back towards zero. A negative account balance takes precedent over an obligation deduction in the allocation of new deposits.

• If an offender is discharged with a negative “available balance”, OBS will attempt to restore the negative amount when account consolidation occurs.

• If at time of discharge the offender’s account is still negative (after account consolidation) the offender’s account will have to be brought to zero balance through a deposit from the facility’s petty cash fund. Facilities will reimburse their petty cash fund for this OBS deposit by making a claim against their 205 Fund (Inmate and Staff and Canteen Support Revolving fund).

Co-pays

Legal Co-pays
Offenders will be charged legal co-pays in accordance with OP-030115 “Access to Courts/Law Library” as prescribed in Attachment A of that policy.

Medical Co-pays
Policy (OP-140117 “Access to Health Care” paragraph III. F) provides that offenders will not be refused health care because of their financial status. However, offenders will be charged a $2.00 copayment fee for each offender-initiated request for a medical, dental or optometric service and $2.00 for each medication issued during an offender-initiated clinic visit. It is extremely important for Trust Fund officers, when in doubt, to confirm with their medical services administrator that a medical co-pay charge is to be applied to the offender’s account. While not specifically stated in policy, offenders are usually not charged for chronic condition services.

Upon implementation of electronic medical records at all department locations the OBS will be able to electronically import medical and pharmacy co-pay charges. Actual implementation date of this import technology with be determined by management.

Medical Co-pay Exemptions
OP-140117, paragraph III F. 3, states: “offenders will not be charged a $2.00 copayment fee for the following:

1. Physical examinations and health assessments;

2. Medical provider initiated health care services, including any medical, dental, and optometric follow-up treatment or care, which is recommended by the medical provider and can be scheduled on a subsequent clinic visit;

3. Laboratory services;

4. Radiological services;

5. Immunizations, tuberculosis screening, vaccinations, and any other treatment prescribed for public health concerns;

6. Mental health services;

7. Initial health assessments conducted during the reception process at the assessment and reception center;

8. EKG’s, dressing changes, and other treatments prescribed by a healthcare provider;

9. Prenatal, perinatal, and clinically indicated postpartum care;

10.Health care provider initiated medical referrals to outside public or private health care facilities;

11.Initial acute care treatment rendered for an on-the-job injury;

12.Prescription medications prescribed for asthma, coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, Hepatitis C, HIV, hypertension, seizures, and mental health disorders.

13.Specific prescription medications listed as co-pay exempt in OP-140117 “Access to Healthcare - Attachment A”

14.Emergency or trauma care (i.e., life threatening medical condition).

Postage Co-pays
OP-030115 “Access to Courts/Law Library” authorizes offenders to be charged for the cost of returning an ‘unauthorized items’ and the return of cash or checks to the sender.

Reimbursement of Obligations and Co-pays
Voiding a withdrawal for an offender obligation and/or co-pay due to an incorrect entry is generally possible if a check has not been printed. If a check has been printed then the facility must cancel the check and then void the withdrawal/obligation entry. If this approach is not possible due system limitations then the staff must seek offender reimbursement for the incorrect withdrawal from the Chief Financial Officer.

Offender Encumbrances
Encumbrances are established by a facility to withhold offender available balances for a future payment. When an encumbrance is established in OBS the offender’s available balance is reduced until such time as the encumbrance is cancelled or an offender withdrawal occurs.

Encumbrance Release
Only the OBS location that creates an encumbrance can release the encumbrance. If offender movement occurs during the period of encumbrance, the gaining OBS location must contact the offender’s prior OBS location to release the encumbrance.

Return of a Discharged or Paroled Offender
If a discharged or paroled offender returns to department custody his/her OBS account will automatically be reactivated during the OMS to OBS overnight process. Facility business offices shall research all offender obligations in OBS using the “Obligation Manager Entry” screen (unclick ‘active only’) to determine whether the offender was discharged or paroled with an outstanding and unfulfilled offender obligation.

Old obligations, if not fulfilled, will be validated and re-activated in OBS by the facility business office. Prior court obligations will be researched and updated for payments received by the court while the offender was not in department custody. New court obligations will be researched by appropriate department staff and entered into OBS.