In Some Localities, Prisoners Pay for Their Cell

Cal Thomas | Syndicated Columnist | Monday, June 01, 2009

In Some Localities, Prisoners Pay for Their Cell

May 29, 2009

There don’t seem to be a lot of good ideas anymore, but here’s one.

Cities and municipalities across the country are beginning to charge convicted criminals for their time in jail. USA Today reports that Springfield, Oregon will charge $60 per night for a room in the slammer, beginning this fall.

At least four city and county jails have already started billing inmates. The Salt Lake City Metro Jails charges $40 per day. Missouri’s Taney County jail is a bargain at $10 a day. The Richmond, Va., jail charges only $1 a day and the few who can’t afford that pittance can work jobs in the jail to earn money. Sheriff C.T. Woody says Richmond started the fee because taxpayers are tired of footing the bill to house criminals while other vital services are being cut from municipal budgets.

I think it’s a great idea. I also would like to see more of these jails and prisons in private hands so taxpayers no longer have to pay for any of them. The fees also help with the restitution process, which itself can be redemptive.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.