Jails - Paying For Services
inmates fees portion trend
The last comprehensive survey of statutory state authority permitting jails to charge fees for some kinds of services was conducted by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), U.S. Department of Justice, in 1997 and published as Fees Paid by Jail Inmates: Findings from the Nation's Largest Jails. Data from that study indicate that most states authorized some kind of fee for services to inmates. An explanation of such fees follows:
- Medical services—collecting copayments or other fees for medical care
- Per diem fees—requiring jail inmates to reimburse the county for all or a portion of their daily incarceration costs, including housing, food, and basic programs
- Other nonprogram functions—charging for services such as bonding, telephone use, haircuts, release escort, and drug testing
- Participation in programs—imposing a fee or collecting a portion of any compensation earned by inmates in programs, such as work release, weekend incarceration, and electronic monitoring; or charging for participation in rehabilitation programs such as education or substance abuse treatment
The NIC's 1997 survey was an update of earlier work tracking what has become a major trend in the management of jails, a trend that was still strong in 2003 as evidenced by a review of journalistic reports of new proposals on the Internet. However, the trend has not been surveyed authoritatively in recent years. Jails are also attempting to finance a portion of their operations by charging other jurisdictions for housing inmates, as noted earlier. In the Census of Jails, 1999 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 2001), the Department of Justice reported that at that time about 71% of all jail systems had established charges for keeping inmates for other jurisdictions. Fees charged averaged $48 a day for federal prisoners, $36 for state prisoners, and $38 for jail inmates held for other local jails.