County raises daily inmate fees

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

$10 hike aims to align BarCo fees with surrounding counties

Barry County will now be charging more in daily fees for inmates held at the jail.

The county commission recently voted to raise the daily inmate fee from $35 to $45, a move that will align Barry County fees with fees of surrounding counties.

"Stone County is at $45, so if we send someone there, or they send someone here, it causes a conflict," said Cherry Warren, presiding commissioner. "This just gets us in line with those other counties so there's no conflict."

Warren said the daily fee covers things like food, clothing, electricity and other jail costs.

Although there is not as much sharing of inmates as there has been in the past, as the 2009 jail expansion moved the Barry County jail from 50 beds to 80 beds, Warren said there are still instances where the sharing occurs.

"With our 80-bed jail, we really only send someone to Stone County if there is some sort of conflict [between inmates]," he said. "Or, if one of our people is picked up in another county. We are thankful for that expansion, because if we had to farm out our inmates to other counties, that would cost us more money."

Warren said the jail hovers around 60 inmates at any given time, so there is plenty of room if another county has to send someone over.

The $45 fees are charged to the holding agency, which can be a county or a city, and then the holding agency bills the inmates for the costs. However, Warren said it is tough to get payment from inmates.

"Inmates are supposed to pay those fees back, but it's hard to get blood out of a turnip," he said.

Brian Nichols, city clerk in Seligman, said he understands the commission's decision to raise the daily rate.

"Ultimately, that fee is paid by the inmate, so it is what it is," he said. "Just like every town, court departments are struggling with individuals not paying fines and fees, so we don't count on that money because we never know if it will come in."

Nichols said on average, Seligman sends about 10 people to the county jail each month.

"It always fluctuates," he said. "Toward the end of the month, when there is more domestic violence, we are more likely to send someone there to put on a 12-hour hold just to diffuse a situation, but most of the time, we can get them to disperse or calm down. And, if we arrest someone on an outstanding warrant, that's handled through the county and we don't get billed."

Marion Jacobson, city of Exeter police chief, said his department only sends about two or three people to the county jail each month, and the hike in the fee should not affect the city.

"It really does not affect the municipality because we push those through with the fines and court costs," he said. "We've had some problems with non-payment, but if they don't pay, we turn around and issue a warrant, and if they go back to jail, they just have to pay more."

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