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Is Charging Inmates to Stay in Prison Smart Policy?

There are an estimated 10 million people who owe more than $50 billion resulting from their involvement in the criminal justice system.

Published: September 9, 2019

The Amer­ican crim­inal justice system is replete with fees that attempt to shift costs from the govern­ment to those accused and convicted of break­ing the law. Courts impose monet­ary sanc­tions on a substan­tial major­ity of the millions of U.S. resid­ents convicted of felony and misde­meanor crimes. There are an estim­ated 10 million people who owe more than $50 billion result­ing from their involve­ment in the crim­inal justice system.

In the last few decades, fees have prolif­er­ated, such as charges for police trans­port, case filing, felony surcharges, elec­tronic monit­or­ing, drug test­ing, and sex offender regis­tra­tion. Unlike fines, whose purpose is to punish, and resti­tu­tion, which is inten­ded to compensate crime victims, user fees are inten­ded to raise revenue. This map details which stat­utes author­ize state and county correc­tional facil­it­ies to charge inmates for their cost of incar­cer­a­tion as well as charge inmates for medical fees while incar­cer­ated.

States That Permit Inmate Charges for Room and Board or Medical Fees


Pay-to-Stay Charges

Data Not Available