Across the Nation, States Charge Inmates for Prison Costs

Thanks to the war on drugs, increasingly harsh laws and lengthening sentences, the number of people behind bars in the United States has risen by roughly 700 percent since 1970. To make up for the rising costs of having over 2 million people in jail or prison, states have created “pay-to-stay” programs in which inmates can be charged for room, board and medical costs…  At least 49 states have their own versions of these programs…

In a 2008 study by the Urban Institute, researchers found only 31 percent of former inmates were able to secure steady employment within two months of their leaving prison. Many of them cited background checks into their criminal records as a major reason that they struggled to find employment.

According to the Brennan Center, more than $50 billion in criminal justice fees are owed—by a total of some 10 million people—and it’s likely that a sizable portion of that amount is from these pay-to-stay programs.

Though many states seek payments only from inmates who are believed to be able to pay, the center found that many former inmates had ended up dealing with collections agencies when they had trouble paying fees. Florida lets private collection agencies increase the original fee by 40 percent in pursuing payment…

The fees incurred aren’t just for the major expenses, but sometimes states seem to be charging inmates for nearly everything that they can think of. Inmates are often charged for each piece of clothing provided, the blankets for their beds, toilet paper and towels as well as simply for entering a parole program. These smaller fees can add up to make the total fee significantly larger.

The main problem with pay-to-stay programs is that they put the burden of paying for prisons on the poor. If a rich man ends up in prison for a few months and has to pay a fee, it won’t be a problem for him, but a poor man’s life could be ruined in the same situation. We are making laws to throw people in prison and then forcing them to pay when they come out…

10 thoughts on “Across the Nation, States Charge Inmates for Prison Costs

  1. hmm sounds kinda like ‘debtor’s prison’ which of course we don’t have because that would be wrong.this is just a neat little way around that to still make them prisoners until they die.

    Liked by 1 person

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