Riverside County has passed legislation that will require inmates in county jails to pay up to $142 per day for their incarceration. The legislation was passed in response to AB109 which now requires that all newly convicted non-serious, non-violent, non-sex offender felons be incarcerated in county jails as opposed to state prisons. This new state law will decrease the amount of inmates in state prisons and increase the number of inmates in county jails. Many counties are looking for innovative methods to defray the increased costs of more inmates.
Riverside County decided to charge the inmates themselves. Judges are required to evaluate an inmate’s financial situation to determine whether the inmate has the ability to pay . Also, the fees charged can only be collected after an inmates pays off restitution, court fines and probation costs. Furthermore, the fees are civil in nature — this means that failure to pay does not lead to more jail time. The County will attempt to collect the money through civil means — garnished wages and tax returns, liens on homes and vehicles.
Parents can be assessed fees for incarcerated juveniles. Most inmates are indigent and don’t have the money to reimburse the county, but the county may recover some money from a few inmates who are more financially solvent. Neither Los Angeles nor Orange Counties currently make the inmates pay to stay at county jails, although both counties do allow private jails where inmates can pay to stay.