Riverside County supervisors are moving ahead with a plan to charge inmates for their stays in jail, including at facilities such as the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.

BY DUANE W. GANG
STAFF WRITER
dgang@pe.com

Published: 02 November 2011 10:35 AM

Riverside County is moving ahead with a plan to charge people for their jail time.

It costs an average of $142.42 per day to house someone in a jail, and Supervisor Jeff Stone said the county must work to recoup the money, particularly during tough economic times.

“I believe we have a responsibility and duty to reimburse the county for incarceration, legal costs and fees whenever and wherever possible,” Stone said at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting.

“I think we’re blazing a new trail here,” he said. “In these very challenging economic times, I believe this can be a source of revenue …I believe this can return 3 to 5 million (dollars) a year during these very challenging economic times.”

Stone first asked in June about whether the county could legally charge people for the time spent in county jail. He dubbed his proposal “Require Every Convict Occupant Reimburse County Expenses.”

County Counsel Pamela Walls said the county does have the legal authority to seek reimbursement.

“In order to recover such costs, the Board must adopt an ordinance which designates the officer responsible for the collection of moneys ordered and the average per-day costs in the County jail or other local detention facility,” she wrote in a memo to supervisors.

Despite Walls’ warning that the reimbursements might not amount to much, supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to introduce the formal ordinance next week.

In her memo to the board, Walls said collecting the money might be difficult.

The courts must first determine whether a defendant has the ability to pay, Walls wrote. And the county isn’t first in line to get money from prisoners.

To read entire story, click here.