Anyone who has been on the receiving end of those pricey phone calls from the county jail knows firsthand that when a person heads to prison, the inmate’s relatives and romantic partners typically serve the bid with them. A recent report published by CNN Money, which explored the heavy burden placed on women who are left on the outside while the men in their lives serve hard time, specifically zoned in on Black women and how incarceration impacts their finances.
Debra Henderson, who makes $60,000 per year, admits that she spent approximately $32,000 “on everything from bail bonds to lawyers to phone calls trying to maintain relationships with the men in her life.” It all began with the insurance broker’s now ex-husband, who was in and out of prison throughout their 15-year relationship.
“Once she gave him $5,000 to help pay for a lawyer. Then she helped pay for phone calls and sent him money for his commissary account and visited him in jail, spending money on gas, tolls and vending machine food. In 2007, she had just refinanced the house they lived in when her husband was arrested again. The $10,000 she received from the refinancing went to a bail bondsman instead.”
After having to use the money that was intended for home repairs on her then husband’s bond, Henderson ended the relationship.
“It was the last straw and the couple separated shortly thereafter. She never received child support from her ex-husband, who is currently incarcerated, and now that two of her children are above the age of 18 and the youngest is 14, she doesn’t expect she will.”
In March 2012, she was forced to file for bankruptcy, and unfortunately, the story does not end there. By August of 2014, the divorced mother’s current boyfriend found himself on the wrong side of the law and was sentenced to seven months. Henderson says that she stuck by her partner during the stint, spending nearly $2,500 on phone calls, $3.95 to 10.95 per transaction on commissary fees and $3,000 on fees incurred by his mandatory probation program once he was released. And if that weren’t enough, her son also had a few brushes with the law, which resulted in Henderson shelling out approximately $6,000 in bail and attorneys’ fees.
“Where I’m standing at 40 years old, I should have better credit from helping everybody else that’s taken from me,” she said.
And apparently, Henderson is not alone. Earlier this month, our Culture Editor Veronica Wells spoke with social media maven Supa_Cent, who is also maintaining a relationship with a prison inmate.
“I just feel like there are so many men and women in prison, ain’t no way I’m the only person going through this. Ain’t no way I’m the only person that feel like I should be there, I should stand by his side, I’m going to visits, I’m answering the phone, I’m putting money [on his books.] I’m not the only one,” she said of the experience.
While Henderson’s story seems to fall on the extreme side, there are many who can attest to the fact that having a loved one who is behind bars not only weighs heavily on one’s heart, but also on their pockets.
Of course, all of this prison talk got us to wondering how many other ladies are out there with similar stories. So Noirettes, feel free to weigh in below. Has a loved one ever served a prison stint? Approximately how much money did you spend on them during their time behind bars?