The rising price of prison
by Lisa Tome
It may soon cost more to have a job and be incarcerated in Cecil County.
A trio of fee hikes have been proposed, all of which, if passed, will hit detainees in the pocketbook.
Barry Janney, Director of Community Corrections, explained the need for the three rate hikes last week. The proposals are as follows:
• Increase the housing fee for regular, gainfully employed inmates from 20 percent to 25 percent of their wages.
• Increase the community service fee from $20 to $75 per community service inmate at the Cecil County Detention Center.
• Another proposed fee increase doubles the weekend housing inmate weekend fee from $10 to $20.
Janney said that the $20 fee for participating as a community service inmate hasn't changed in years. He said that in Montgomery County, the fee for the same service is $170. He said those in the community corrections are detained for minor thefts, traffic offenses, or minor drug offenses. "This is a step forward, moving the price up to $75," said Janney.
It costs about the same as "an average hotel" to house an inmate. Depending on population at the detention center, that is about $75-$85 per day. That is one reason that doubling the weekend housing fee has been proposed.
But Janney admitted that not all of the weekend inmates can afford the fees. Some, will do most anything to avoid paying them including bringing in contraband. That way they are sent to the detention center instead of community corrections.
Members of the council were also told by Janney that the recidivism rate is high. Multi generations of the same families are incarcerated multiple times.
Councilman Alan McCarthy said that the United States of America has five percent of the world's population but has 25 percent of the number of those incarcerated.
Public hearings for these fee hikes will be held May 12. The consideration date is June 2.
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