Inmates incarcerated at an Indiana jail will soon find themselves being charged $30 per day for every day of their jail terms.
Clinton County, Indiana, passed an ordinance requiring inmates to pay $30 per day for every day of the duration of their jail sentence.
The new ordinance will apply to prisoners who are convicted of both misdemeanors and felonies.
Only inmates who have spent 72 hours or more inside the jail would have to pay.
“If it deterred one person from making a bad decision than it is worth it to me,” Sheriff Rich Kelly told WTTV in an interview, adding he things the new policy would save tax payers money and provide an extra deterrent to crime.
However, not everyone is so happy with the deal.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana calls the ordinance “bad policy.”
“Just because it is legal doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s good policy,” Jane Henegar, ACLU Indian’s Executive Director, said.
Henegar says she doesn’t approve of the county’s new policy.
“There are many ways that we can help individuals restart their lives. Burdening them with excessive and unnecessary debt to solve a problem of our own making, not the individual’s, but our making, that seems cruel and just plain bad policy,” she told Fox 59.
Clinton County Commissioner Joshua Uitts says the ordinance is acting within state law and would cover some of the costs of maintaining the jail.
“Everyone is welcomed to their own opinion. This is something that’s been prescribed in state statute that it’s absolutely legal to do. All we did was enact a tool that the state legislature has given us to recoup costs,” Uitss said.
Henegar says people incarcerated already have enough challenges to deal with when they are released from jail. She says racking up debt creates a bigger burden.
Sheriff Kelly argues debt is something all adults have to deal with.
“Yes, we all have debt. If we are responsible, we take on debt while we have employment, and we have the ability to repay those debts. We’re talking about incarcerating people and taking away their ability to earn a wage and yet sadly with a debt,” Henegar pointed out.
The ACLU of Indiana says they will be looking deeper into what the law says about charging inmates fees for their jail stay.
Vanderbugh County in Indiana said they also charge inmates, but only with a one-time booking fee of $50 after they are convicted of a crime.