Approximately four years ago the Department of Correction began a program of placing inmate work-release funds in interest bearing accounts. These accounts were established by the Department with a private banking institution. On approximately January 1, 1978, the Department intends to place with the State Treasurer the work-release funds which will then be deposited in an interest bearing account with other state monies. The interest drawn on the work-release funds will be paid to the Department and credited proportinately to the respective inmate accounts. In the words of the requestor of this opinion, "considerable staff effort is, and will be in the future expended on administering these funds." The Secretary of Correction inquires whether the Department can deduct from the interest drawn on the work-release funds the cost of administering the funds or the work-release program.
G.S. 148-33.1 sets for the provisions for adminsitering prisoners work-release accounts and the deductions which may be made therefrom. G.S. 149-33.1(f), as amended by the 1977 Session of the General Assembly, reads as follows:
"(f) Prisoners employed in the free community under the provisions of this section shall surrender to the Department of Correction their earnings less standard payroll deductions required by law. After deducting from the earnings of each prisoner an amount determined to be the cost of the prisoner's keep, the Department of Correction shall retain to his credit such amount as seems necessary to accumulate a reasonable sum to be paid to him when he is paroled or discharged from prison, and shall make such disbursements from any balance of his earnings as may be found necesssary by the Department for the following purposes, considered in a priority order as stated:
- To pay travel and other expenses of the prisoner made necessary by his employment;
- To provide a reasonable allowance to the prisoner for his incidental personal expenses;
- To make payments for the support of the prisoner's dependents in accordance with an order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or in the absence of a court order, in accordance with a determination of dependency status and need made by the local department of social services in the county of North Carolina in which such dependents reside;
- To make restitution or reparation of an aggrieved party or parties for the damage or loss occasioned by the offense or offenses committed by the prisoner when such restitution is imposed as a condition of work release privileges pursuant to the provisions of G.S. 148-33.2.
- To comply with an order from any court of competent jurisdiction regarding the payment of an obligation of the prisoner in connection with any case before such court."
G.S. 148-33.1(f) makes no provision for the deduction of the cost administration of the work-release account. Since the statue is explicit as to what may be deducted, it is to be inferred that the General Assembly did not authorize deductions other than those which appear on the list. We can find no other authority which might support such a deduction.
It is therefore our opinion that the cost of administering the work-release program, or the costs of administering the work-release funds on deposit, cannot be deducted from the interest drawn on those funds in the absence of statutory authority to do so.
Rufus L. Edmisten Attorney General
James Peeler Smith Assistant Attorney General