S.L. County considers charging jail inmates

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SALT LAKE CITY - Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder wants to start charging inmates for each night of their stay.

Currently it costs $82 a day to bunk an inmate. The sheriff wants to charge some inmates $40 a day.

Sheriff's department spokesman Lt. Don Hutson says in cases where people can pay, they should.

"This is something that's been talked about for quite some time, obviously to offset some of the costs of running a jail. It's very expensive," he said.

Hutson says it wouldn't apply to every inmate. For example, federal and state prison inmates housed temporarily at the jail may not be charged.

The Salt Lake County Council will talk in their council meeting Tuesday afternoon about making it a six-month pilot program.

Some council members like the idea. They say it's time inmates paid more, not taxpayers.

"I think that this is something that a lot of people support, when it comes to trying to offset some of those costs to the taxpayer of running a jail," Hutson said.

But other council members say it may be too much of a financial burden for some inmates to have a bill to pay. Hutson says there will be incentives for inmates who participate in drug treatment programs, parenting classes or other workshops.

"Obviously when you are talking about reducing the cost, if in fact it is going to cost people to stay, if you can provide some really good incentives that we believe will help those people and reduce perhaps (the chance of) them coming back to the jail, then it's a good opportunity," Hutson said.

The Salt Lake County Council meeting takes place Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the council chambers at 2001 S. State St.

E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

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