Friday, November 05, 1999

Jail inmates to pay for meals, lodging


Campbell fiscal court OKs reimbursement

BY TERRY FLYNN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Inmates who have a job and are doing time in the Campbell County jail for a misdemeanor offense will soon be paying for the accommodations and meals.

        Campbell County Fiscal Court approved a resolution Wednesday night that established a reimbursement fee for any person convicted of a misdemeanor who is gainfully employed and is sentenced to the county jail.

        “We looked at this program years ago,” county Commissioner Dave Otto said Thursday. “The people who suffer when someone goes to jail are the kids and the spouse. At least in this way, inmates have the opportunity to work, bring money home to the family and pay for their stay in the jail.”

        A judge can order a work-release program, in which the inmate leaves the jail each day for his job, then returns each night.

        Campbell County Jailer Greg Buckler, who helped put the program together with District Court Judge Greg Popovich and the fiscal court members, said he thinks the program will prove to be a real benefit to the county and the jail.

        “If the person in custody has a job, they will be required by the judge to pay about 25 percent of their daily salary,” Mr. Buckler said. “The minimum payment would be $12 daily, with a maximum of $40.”

        “If there is no work-release ordered, the inmate is usually given a period of time after his (or her) release to pay the required amount to the court, including fines and the incarceration fee,” Mr. Buckler said.

        Mr. Otto said the plan now being set up by the county is patterned after one in use by Mason County, Ky., for more than a year. Mr. Buckler and Judge Popovich visited the Mason County jail and talked with the jailer and judges there.

        “It's been quite successful for Mason County,” Mr. Otto said. “It's a much smaller county than Campbell, but since January they've collected over $25,000.”

        Mr. Buckler said the jail also has a work-detail program for indigent prisoners, enabling them to work in the county and the cities as a form of reimbursement.

        “We'll be working closely with cities and the county to provide some type of community service,” he said. “We have some people who already work on the roads and at the county park. This way the county gets free labor, plus the inmate is working off the time.”

       



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