Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - February 26, 2003

County implements jail fees

The Stearns County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to charge boarding fees and to begin double bunking as a way to solve the jail overcrowding issue.

All inmates will now pay $20 per day while in jail. Those who are on work release will pay a portion of their fee while in custody.

Inmates will get a bill when they leave jail; they can pay either by cash or credit card. A 10 percent discount will be given to those who pay immediately. Fees that aren't collected upon leaving will be turned over to a collection agency.

Currently, only those inmates who are on work release are charged a fee, either $10 to $14 per day. The actual cost to house an inmate or transfer them to another jail is between $55 to $75 per day.

Starting in spring, the county will also start to double-bunk some prisoners to ease jail overcrowding.

Stearns County houses approximately 30 to 40 prisoners a day in neighboring counties, primarily in Kandiyohi and Benton counties. At a cost of $55 per day, the county could spend $803,000 in 2003 to transfer prisoners, nearly $300,000 over the county's budget of $535,000.

By double-bunking, the county would be able to handle more prisoners at a cheaper cost, approximately $450,000.

The county has other options in mind for a long-term solution to overcrowding. These include electronic monitoring, allowing sentence-to-serve inmates to stay at home, and staggered sentencing. Staggered sentencing allows inmates to serve only a part of their sentence. After being released, they must prove to the judge that they're obeying the conditions of the court or they'll serve the rest of their sentence.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community