California County to Charge Prisoners for Jail Stay
Posted on Nov 10, 2011
In one part of Southern California, if you do the crime, there’s a chance you’ll pay both the time and the price of imprisonment. Due to a measure passed Tuesday by Riverside County’s board of supervisors, county jail inmates deemed able will be forced to pay $142.42 per day during their stay in the clink.
Rather than raising taxes on those who can afford it or reducing the prison population by decriminalizing petty offenses, county Supervisor Jeff Stone thinks that’s the best way to make up $3 million to $5 million in the county’s annual budget shortfall. But what about those many (if not most) prisoners who can’t afford the cost? —ARK
The board of supervisors made the decision after the county’s lawyer determined that this type of reimbursement is legal under state law. But this is not a blanket decision. The county will review the reimbursement requirements of prisoners on a case-by-case basis, and make determinations based on their ability, or inability, to pay.
“In order to be reimbursed, the court must determine that the defendant has the ability to pay all or a portion of these costs,” wrote county counsel Pamela Walls, in a legal memo to the county supervisors. “Many defendants who are incarcerated lack the financial means, after the payments of fines and penalties, to reimburse these costs.”
The court must also weigh the charges against the prisoners’ family support obligations.