Inmate daily charge drops to $45 |

Inmate daily charge drops to $45

Christine McManus

BRECKENRIDGE – Jail inmates’ nightly charge was reduced from $81 to $45 this week, after the program was reworked by Summit County sheriff’s officials.

The 44-percent rate reduction in the new program follows a court ruling by Summit County District Court Judge David Lass.

In November, Judge Lass reviewed a complaint from one of the first inmates to contest his jail bill. Simon Bender, who spent 90 days in the Summit County Jail after violating probation conditions on an original charge of drug possession, had his $7,300 bill dropped.

Lass said the jail should only charge inmates for room and board, clothing and other costs directly related to inmate care, in accordance with a state law passed last year. In other words, indirect costs such as jail officers’ benefits, uniforms and training ammunition should not be included in the tab.

Lass also said inmates’ bills should be determined in court at the sentencing, rather than calculated by jail administrators after the inmate has served the sentence.

Jail operators the past month refigured the daily rate. The Summit Board of County Commissioners approved the revision last Monday. The rate goes into effect on this Monday.

Any medical bills incurred by inmates would be added onto the inmates’ bills.

Only inmates who stay more than 12 hours will be charged the daily rate of $45. That is the same as the former discounted rate that was charged if inmates paid in a timely manner.

Judges who sentence criminals must determine whether the person has the capacity to pay the total charge. The determination will largely be based upon whether the person qualifies for free legal counsel, based on household income.

Once released, former inmates must first pay alimony, child care and restitution before they tackle jail bills.

The rate is similar to that charged to the State Department of Corrections and the rates of other counties when their inmates are transferred.

Flattening tax revenues and increasing jail costs are the justification from state legislators and from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office for the new inmate cost-of-care program.

The rate is subject to change next year.

“It’s pretty simple. If you don’t want to pay, don’t do the stuff that gets you in there,” said Commissioner Tom Long.

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