RIVERSIDE (CBS) — Doing hard time in Riverside County is about to get a little harder — at least on convicts’ pocketbooks.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday tentatively approved an ordinance to require inmates in county detention facilities to reimburse the county for the cost of their incarceration.

“This will add a new dimension to our judicial system,” said Supervisor Jeff Stone, who submitted the “Require Every Convict Occupant Reimburse County Expenses” — or RECORCE — ordinance.

“We have a duty and responsibility (to ensure) the county is reimbursed for costs borne by the county wherever and whenever possible,” the supervisor said. “If you do the crime, you’ll do the time and pay the dime.”

Under the plan, convicts who spend a day or more in county jail would be required to undergo financial assessments to determine whether they have the means to repay the county for their time behind bars, which averages $142 per inmate per day.

County Counsel Pamela Walls stressed there would be no “debtor’s prison” for individuals unable to pay.

Anyone jailed but not convicted of a crime also would not be liable for the cost of their detention.

Board Chairman Bob Buster questioned whether the measure, which is expected to be formally adopted by the board after a final hearing next week, would lead to any appreciable increase in revenue.

“Will we be spending more money to collect some of these bills than we capture?” he asked.

Stone replied that “a number people convicted of crimes … have the financial resources” to pay the county. He cited “white collar” convicts and DUI offenders as examples, conjecturing that RECORCE could generate “millions of dollars a year.”

In accordance with state law, reimbursements would fall behind other sentencing priorities, including victim restitution, fines, public defender compensation and state surcharges, according to the county counsel’s office.

The Riverside County Superior Court Executive Office’s Enhanced Collections Division recovered $50,458 in reimbursable costs to the county during fiscal year 2010-11.

Most of that money was obtained from probationers on payment plans, which numbered around 42,000 cases in 2010-11, according to the court.

The county Probation Department would be responsible for collecting the money, and all remittances would be deposited directly into the county general fund.

The board directed probation officials to study the impact and effectiveness of the ordinance after it has been in effect a year and report back to the board at the end of that period.

»RELATED STORY: Charge Inmates To Stay In Jail? Riverside County Eyes $5M Revenue Boost

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (7)
  1. KOBE says:

    Just another scam by city councils.

  2. Lou Luna says:

    Criminal never have bank accounts nor jobs how will they pay ? locking them up more days for the days they don’t pay.

  3. Ashley says:

    watch the amount of bank robberies triple after this.

  4. Wain says:

    Way to go no free accommodations: place a judgement till fully repaid. Hit them where it hurts, see how quickly they learn to behave responsibly. and if they choose not to learn, at least they will continue to support their local municipality.

  5. ES says:

    How long before they start arresting people just for profits? Keep the jails full = keep your job and year end bonuses.

  6. Frank says:

    If the criminals don’t like it, I got the solution. STAY OUT OF JAIL! It’s really not that hard.

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