CA Survey: Did CDCR spend your parolee $200 release allowance for you?

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[ACSOL’s comment: CA parolees, ex-parolees, and supporters, please take a few moments to take this survey share your personal experiences with CDCR spending your parolee $200 allowance.]

From: Claudia J. Gonzalez,

As advocates for justice and fairness, we need your help to address an ongoing issue affecting individuals released or paroled from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) institutions.

By law, individuals leaving CDCR facilities are entitled to a $200 release allowance known as ‘Gate Money.’ Unfortunately, there’s a concerning practice within CDCR where transportation and clothing costs are deducted from this allowance for those without a support system in place. This unjust practice disproportionately affects individuals traveling long distances to their paroling counties, resulting in a drastic reduction of their release allowance.

We believe in the power of collective voices, and your experiences are invaluable in bringing about change. We are conducting a survey to gather data on this issue, aiming to put an end to CDCR’s unfair deduction practices and advocate for changes in the existing law.

How You Can Help: Please take a few moments to share your personal experiences with this issue by filling out our survey. Your insights will contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the challenges individuals face upon release and support our efforts to bring about meaningful change.

Survey Link:

Why Your Input Matters:

  • Your stories provide real-life examples that highlight the impact of CDCR’s practices.
  • Collected data will be used to advocate for policy changes and put an end to this unfair treatment.
  • By sharing your experience, you contribute to a collective effort aimed at making a positive impact on the lives of those affected.

We appreciate your time and commitment to justice. Together, we can work towards creating a more equitable system for everyone. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us.

Thank you for your dedication to making a difference. If you have any questions, please contact Claudia J. Gonzalez at
and also

4400 Market Street
Oakland, CA 94608


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yep the scumbags (tehatchapi) took me into town on a prison VAN and forced me to get on a charter BUS that took me to san bernardino train station, If I wasnt continuing from there then I got the REMAINDER back (about $150) basically held my GATE $$ HOSTAGE and FORCED me to get on a bus in downtown tehatchapi and was FORCED to take that bus to the amtrak station in san bernardino

I didn’t have this kind of experience as I was picked up in the prison parking lot when I was released by my mom. The van just drove me to my pickup truck which my mom drove up from the Los Angeles area to Avenal. But this kind of thing seems to be CDCR finding another way to screw parolees over and save money in the process. And if this isn’t bad enough, it’s been decades since the amount of gate money has been raised. I think $200 in gate money started to be given to parolees in the 1970’s and the amount has never gone up since then.

Since we’re talking about weird prison release experiences, I was released from Susanville III Yard, Lassen in late December, a few days before Christmas, 1993, with the $200 gate money after doing five years inside, almost all of it on that yard except for my time in county and three months in San Quentin “Reception Center,” (the worst possible “reception” imaginable, btw). They provided three or four of us parolees a ride in a private prisoner transport van to Reno with the others getting off at the bus station while I went on to the airport which, after being locked up for so long, was a completely surreal experience. There were throngs of holiday passengers including men, women and CHILDREN, of all things, almost none of whom worked in the corrections industry. My sensory inputs were definitely overloaded with the sudden appearance of normality back into my life. I remember the restroom had faucets and fixtures that automatically turned on, something I had never seen before. I used the gate money to buy a ticket to Oakland airport, as I recall. I’m not sure how it makes any sense to take that money away from parolees. Surely, they want to get them as far away from the prison towns as quickly as possible. I remember stories of prisoners not leaving these towns after paroling and then being chased out of town by the cops and the corrections officers. It’s completely illogical, especially given the enormous amount of money that is spent to house a single prisoner for a year, said now to be $132,860, none of which is spent on making life easier for them, I might add. No, it’s just petty, biblical vengeance without even an insincere nod to “rehabilitation.” Our society wants to inflict further pain and punishment on us more than they want to make sound policy decisions that benefit society. That’s a luxury they still think that they can afford.

I’m still stuck on the part where Calfornia doles out $200 in release money. That’s much better than some states. In Wisconsin, an inmate’s release account is funded from money relatives & friends deposit into their canteen. The DOC doesn’t provide free money. They just raid canteen funds for release money! If an inmate doesn’t have anything in their account, they’re flat out of luck.

But the WI DOC will provide some donated clothes, and a bus ticket back to your county of conviction. Since I’d arranged an interstate transfer, my X and kids picked me up and took me back to the Twin Cities. But I still feel sorry for the poor smucks released with only a Greyhound ticket in their hand. And the Wisconsin DOC will still hound them for court fines. I still owe thousands, but those criminals haven’t gotten a penny from me, and they never will

After 8 years inside I was released in 1994 from Soledad and was happy for that $200, plus the few hundred I’d saved working as a clerk for $45 a month. My family picked me up, so there no trip to a bus depot.
I’m stunned that after 30 years they still only give people $200. According to my rectangle of knowledge, if they kept up with inflation it should be over $400. Ah, well, it’s better than nothing.