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|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.
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