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Username: Genesyxx

Post Number: 482
Registered: 02-2004
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Courtesy Detnews.com

SOUTHFIELD -- A new state law that lets municipalities in Oakland and Wayne counties charge prisoners for jail stays will provide welcome relief, according to Metro Detroit law enforcement leaders.

Police departments often foot the bill when they hold prisoners in local lockups before transferring them to a county facility.

In budget-tightening times, police departments would prefer to use such funds toward expenses.

"I concur with this," Southfield Police Chief Joseph Thomas said. "It's cheaper to put them in Yale than to hold them in jail."

Under the law, proposed by State Sen. Laura M. Toy, R-Livonia, and signed April 5 by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a city, village, or township in a county with a population of 1 million or more can seek up to $60 a day or the actual cost of an inmate's incarceration, whichever is less.

Thomas said it costs Southfield about $150 a day to hold a prisoner.

"We have to let people know whenever possible, they're going to pay the cost of incarceration," he said.

County sheriffs in Michigan have received reimbursement from prisoners for years, but payment isn't guaranteed. The Oakland County Jail, for example, bills about $15 million a year in allowed reimbursement under state law, but the collection rate is closer to about $425,000 annually because many of those billed are without jobs or means to pay.

Local governments could further choose to bill inmates for the cost of unreimbursed medical care provided while in custody. And municipalities could file lawsuits to seek reimbursement for any period of pretrial detention.

Farmington Hills Police Chief William Dwyer said the $60-a-day plan "seems about right."

"In a pinch, we can handle temporary care of about 30 prisoners in our jail," Dwyer said.

Toy's district includes Westland, which pays about $640,000 a year to house inmates in contracted jail facilities in and outside Wayne County, Westland Deputy Police Chief Gary Sikorsky said.

"We only have 10 cells and one of the busiest (court) dockets in the county," Sikorsky said. "Once our cells are full we have to do something with them. Wayne County Jail is often full so we have to find somewhere else, like Isabella County. And they charge us for the service."

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