Crow Wing County sentenced jail inmates are now being charged a $25 daily pay-for-stay fee.
Sheriff Todd Dahl said the fee option is allowed by state law, which gives a county board the ability to require a convicted offender to pay the cost of room, board, clothing, medical and dental and for other correctional services.
The $25 daily fee went into effect March 1.
Dahl said the Minnesota Sheriff's Association looked into the issue years ago and backs the fee.
"We certainly believe it's a positive thing for our taxpayers," Dahl said.
Inmates will be presented with an invoice of the detailed charges upon their release. Dahl said the sheriff's office will not have staff time committed to the fee recovery as it will be turned over to a collection agency.
Dahl said not paying the fee will affect the individual's credit rating and thus ability to get future loans. He said many people sentenced to a jail term have money and they will be expected to pay the fee.
For those who cannot pay, Dahl said he doesn't expect the inability to pay to generate additional criminal charges, which would add on jail time and more charges. There are no income guidelines for charging the fee.
There are about 200 prisoners in the Crow Wing County jail. The fee will not apply to state prisoners housed at the county jail. The state is paying a daily fee per offender for those inmates, which number about 35.
Dahl said at this time he isn't sure how much money will be generated from the fee. He said Mille Lacs, Morrison, Aitkin and Itasca counties all have a pay-for-stay fee. Cass County does not.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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