Riverside County considers charging jail inmates

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Riverside County considers charging jail inmates
Riverside, California (BDCi) – In an effort to close a $16 million budget deficit in the Sheriff’s department, the county of Riverside, California is considering charging jail inmates for daily rent and upkeep, not to mention admission fees to their visiting relatives and friends.

The idea is to charge inmates $142 for each day that they stay at the jail. County Supervisor Jeff Stone, the creator of the idea, acknowledges that legally it’s a long shot. “Now I know that we are preempted by some state laws and it’s something that county council will investigate,”

Many others doubt that even if approved, the fees will get collected since there’s a large segment of inmates who just can’t afford to pay the costs of incarceration. Supervisor Stone’s colleague, Supervisor Bob Buster recognizes the challenge. “I don’t want to malign the turnip, but it’s hard to get a lot of juice out of it.”

Still Supervisor Stone is positive that some money will be recaptured, enough to make a dent in the county’s woeful budget situation. “White collar crimes, people that get put in jail after repetitive DUIs, they can in fact reimburse this county either through liens on their property or judgments that can be applied. Even if this nets 2 or 3 million dollars, that’s 2 or 3 million that closes that $16 million gap in the Sheriff’s Department that enables us hopefully to keep the officers on the street.”

Riverside County attorneys will review its inmate reimbursement proposal and report back to the board of supervisors later this year.

By Don Weinstein
Source: KPCC
11 June 2011

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