Many convict criminals are already burdened

Many convict criminals are already burdened

Beginning in December, county jail inmates will be charged up to $142 per day. These fees are to reimburse the county for food and clothing as well as security and other jail costs. Once inmates have been released, the county will garnish their wages and levy liens on their homes in order to collect. Jeff Stone, Temecula pharmacist and county supervisor, suggested the measure. Stone acknowledges that many convicted criminals won’t be able or able to pay the bill, as many are poor and cannot collect their paychecks behind bars. However, he believes that 25% could be able to pay, particularly white collar crime inmates, and that this could generate at least $6million per year to the county.

Stone stated, “In these extremely difficult economic times, every penny counts for counties, particularly when you’re $80million in the hole.” “If the crime is committed, you’re going the time and you’re the one who pays the dime.” Riverside County joins other California counties that have taken Inmate Information measures to recover jail costs or are looking into it. Trinity County, Northern California, charges $20 per day while Glenn County charges as high as $59 per day. This is despite being for inmates who are only allowed to serve weekends. Placer County in Sacramento charges inmates as high as $118 per day while Madera County is $73 per day.

State law requires that a judge first determines whether a defendant can pay before a county can request an imprisonment fee. These fees are also considered a low priority collection. This means defendants must first pay victim and other court-ordered fees before a county can request an incarceration fee.

Stone believes that other counties will follow Stone’s lead during this time of budget cuts. Stone suggested that Orange and Los Angeles counties, which don’t have similar inmate fees to them, should be considered. Stone suggested that Lindsay Lohan was a troubled actress and regular at the courthouse. “She’s been costing Los Angeles the legal and judiciary system a tremendous amount …. It’s not surprising that she doesn’t have the assets to cover this.”

In October, all nonviolent, not-serious, and non-sex-crime felons convicted in California began being sent to county prisons instead of to the overcrowded state prisons. This is part of the state’s effort at complying with a federal court order that reduces the prison population.

Riverside County officials anticipate that it will end up costing the state $21 million this year. Steve Thetford (chief deputy to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s prisons division) said that county jails will reach their maximum capacity next fiscal year. The county must expand its facilities, release low-risk inmates to work or home detention, and maybe pay for them to be sent to other jurisdictions.

Lawyers representing defense and legal experts claim that Riverside County’s fee would make it more difficult to reenter society for ex-inmates. UCLA law professor Sharon Dolovich called this policy “wrongheaded” claiming that some inmates may find it difficult to make ends meet and might return to their crimes. This could result in them being remanded in jail and eventually costing the county even more.

Dolovich, who is a prison and criminal law professor, stated that there is no other purpose to this than to make people feel better. “The county should look long-term and consider the costs associated with failing to successfully reintegrate individuals into society.

Many convict criminals are already burdened with thousands in court-ordered costs. Even those with the financial means to hire a private attorney may still have legal bills hanging over their heads.

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