Inmates to pay for the privilege of incarceration - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Inmates to pay for the privilege of incarceration

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - In an effort to discourage crime and raise funds, the Sharp County Jail is now charging for the privilege of being incarcerated.

In Sharp County if you get in trouble with the law...A. You may go to jail. B. You may have to pay a fine and C. When you get out of jail you may get a bill for your stay.

It's called "Pay for Stay."

Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts says he got the idea from another sheriff.

"Randolph County Sheriff Gary Tribble showed me. And it's something that I thought would be a great way to bring in revenue."

In March, Sheriff Counts asked for and received the Pay for Stay Ordinance from the Quorum Court. Primarily Counts said this fee will help defray Medical expenses.

Counts, "The average cost of taking someone just to see the doctor or dentist costs a hundred dollars a time and it's really eating into our money set aside for medical expenses. When we have 33 inmates like we do this morning, someone is always getting sick and having to go to the doctor.

How the plan works is that if a person is found guilty and spends time in jail, a fee per day is charged and they are given a bill at the end of their stay. So for a 10 day stay Counts says.

Counts, "We charge 35 dollars a day to stay in jail then there's a $350 dollar cost added to their restitution."

Cook says it primarily will pay for the increased costs in food and medical expenses. And yes, he admits it will be tough to collect from some people. However the state has a plan to help.

Counts, "If you have somebody that owes you money you can go after their income tax, get it filed with the state. I know that there will be people we will get nothing from but any little bit will help."

Will this act as a deterrent? I asked Counts.

"I never really looked as it as a deterrent part. I looked at is a way to maybe raise some of those costs of those medical expenses that we are incurring. " he said.

"We just need to help out the taxpayers who are paying for all these expenses." He said, " But then again. Hopefully it will also be a deterrent to people not wanting to go to jail."

Counts says he expects to find out soon how much money the jail will get from the March detainees.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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