Clinton County, Indiana has passed an ordinance that would require inmates to pay $30 per day for the duration of their sentence.
The new ordinance applies to prisoners convicted of both felonies and misdemeanors. Inmates would only have to pay after spending 72 hours in prison.
Sheriff Rich Kelly told WTTV-TV that he believed this new policy would save taxpayers money, and provide an extra deterrent to crime. “If it deterred one person from making a bad decision than it is worth it to me,” Kelly said.
Clinton County is not the first prison to implement this policy. Critics have argued that it discriminates against poorer inmates. The ACLU has protested the move. ACLU Indiana executive director Jane Henegar told WXIN-TV that this policy would burden inmates “with excessive and unnecessary debt to solve a problem of our own making, not the individual’s.” She called this “cruel and just bad policy.” The ACLU said that “[a]dding a bill of over $10,000 per year makes it that much harder to re-enter society.”
But Kelly dismissed accusations that the fee was excessive. “As far as them incurring debt, that’s a responsibility that every adult has. We all incur debt,” he said. Kelly claimed that upkeep at the jail costs residents in the county $4 million annually.
County Commissioner Joshue Uitts has insisted that this new policy is in line with existing Indiana law.
At a rate of $30 per day (minus the first 72 hours), inmates would have to pay $810 for a 30-day sentence, and $10,860 for a year.
This new system is scheduled to take effect in August. The Clinton County jail can hold more than 150 inmates at one time.