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Ray imposes fee for weekend inmates

FARMINGTON – Some inmates sentenced to time in the county jail have the option of serving their time on weekends so they can continue to work.

Soon that option will come with a price.

Associate Circuit Court Judge Thomas L. Ray has decided that individuals in his court who want to serve their time on the weekends should have to pay for the cost of their incarceration rather than taxpayers.

“I talked it over with the sheriff and he agreed it was a good idea,” Judge Ray said. “… We’ll see if it works. Hopefully, it will save the county a little bit of money.”

Sheriff Dan Bullock figured out it costs roughly $20 to incarcerate a person for a day so that’s how much weekend inmates will have to pay each day if they want to serve their jail time on weekends.

“We feel that if we are going to have to put people up (those who are taking advantage of the privilege of weekend incarceration) then they ought to have to pay for their stay,” the sheriff said.

Judge Ray said those who don’t pay for their incarceration may be ordered to perform community service at the state park or at the courthouse to work off their incarceration costs.

Judge Ray said a lot of people convicted of misdemeanor offenses choose weekend incarceration and he understands why. It’s an option judges have allowed for several years.

“We don’t want them to lose their jobs due to less serious (types of) charges,” he said.

When the judge signs a commitment order for weekend incarceration, he orders the offender to show up at the county jail by a certain time and orders them released at the end of the weekend. The time a person reports and is released depends on his or her work schedule.

Bullock said a report is sent to the judge if a person fails to show up.

“Maybe next time they don’t get released,” he said.

Judge Ray said they’ve had some problems in the past with people showing up intoxicated or under the influence of drugs for their weekend incarceration.

“That has been remedied,” he said. “If they show up (intoxicated) … they lose their right to weekends and they serve flat time.”

The sheriff added the individuals could also face new charges if they show up under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Judge Ray said it is not as practical for inmates serving longer terms to pay for their incarceration since they can not be employed.

The state does charge $5 a day for offenders on electronic monitoring and $10 a day for offenders in community release centers who have jobs.

A new state law, scheduled to go into effect Aug. 28, allows the state Board of Probation and Parole to charge anyone under its supervision a fee of up to $60 a month. The board will have the discretion to set the fee or waive it according to the person’s ability to pay.

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