What Is “Gate Money” and What Can You Use It For?

What Is “Gate Money” and What Can You Use It For?

Depending on where you are being held, you may get “gate money” when you leave prison. This is an amount of cash that you get as you exit prison.
It’s important to understand how much gate money you might get and what you can use it for.

How much gate money will you get when you leave prison?

The answer to this question depends mostly on where you are in prison. Different states give different amounts of money. The amount of gate money you receive could be as high as $200, as it is in California. It could also be as little as $10, as it is in Alabama. Prisons in some states don’t provide any gate money at all. In some cases, you will only get the amount of money you have left in your commissary account.

In addition to gate money, some states and facilities arrange clothing and transportation for you. Make sure to learn specific information about your facility and the state where it’s located.

Image showing that in some places, you won't get gate money when you leave prison.
Image courtesy of lucas Favre on Unsplash.

What can you use gate money for?

In general, you can use the funds you get when you leave for anything you want. The gate money you get when you leave prison is your money. Some states issue these funds in cash. Others provide the money in the form of a check. In some states, you’ll get a debit card. If that’s the case, be sure to understand the terms of that card. Others require you to use them within a certain amount of time before charging you penalties.

What should you use gate money for?

This really depends on your personal situation. If you have money in a savings account or financial support from someone else, it won’t matter much. But life outside of prison may be more expensive than you expect. Since it’s been a while since you’ve paid for things like food and clothes, this might be an adjustment for you. There are a variety of common expenses you should be prepared for.

  • Communications. A phone is a necessity in today’s world. Your gate money most likely will not cover the cost of a phone. You will also need to pay for service up front or every month.
  • Food. Once you’re out of prison, you’ll be back to paying for meals. If you didn’t get much gate money, make sure to buy enough food to last you for a few days. It may take some time to start earning some more money.
  • Transportation. In most cases, your facility will give you one-way transportation to where you are going. But what will you do when you get there? You may need to spend money to get around once you get to your destination. You may also need to report to your parole officer soon after release.
  • Clothing. Most prisons give you one set of seasonally-appropriate clothing when they release you. You will probably want more. Try to set aside some money for a change of clothes.
Image depicting what to do with gate money after you leave prison.
Image courtesy of Thgusstavo Santana from Pexels.

In reality, even the maximum gate money at $200 is not much. You can use your gate money to take care of some basic necessities when you leave prison. You will have to prioritize your needs. Another thing to remember is inflation. If you’ve been in prison for a long time, be prepared for things to cost more than you remember. And remember, you may have to start repaying loans that were put on hold while you were inside.

The Takeaway:

In some states, when you leave prison, you will receive gate money. This is money that is given to you upon release in the form of cash, a check or a debit card. The money is yours, and you can spend it on whatever you want. But you should be prepared to have many expenses when you leave prison.

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