Ohio pay-to-stay prisons saddle poor inmates with debt: ACLU
By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Ohio's prison system pushes low-income offenders deeper into poverty by charging fees for their jail time, saddling inmates with debts as high as $35,000, according to a report released on Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.
Forty of the state's 75 county jails that house low-level nonviolent offenders charge a booking fee, daily fees of as much as $50 to $60 a day, or both and of those just half take the offender's income into account when deciding how much of a fee to impose, the report found.
It charges that the fees bury people in debt and likely contribute to higher rates of recidivism. The Ohio ACLU called for the state to eliminate the policies or access for indigence and/or allow programs for inmates to work off the debt.
"Pay-to-stay jail fees are the next generation of unending debts that seek to tether low-income people to the criminal justice system," the report states.
"These fees are insidious: loading formerly incarcerated people with increasing amounts of debt make it nearly impossible for even the most well-meaning person to become a productive member of society."
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