The Riverside County Board of Supervisors tentatively approved a proposed ordinance yesterday, that would require inmates in Riverside County Jails to pay for their own 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” (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 RECORCE, an inmate who spends a day or more in county jail would be required to undergo financial investigation to confirm if they have the assets to repay the county for their time in jail, which averages about $142 per inmate, per day.
County Counsel Pamela Walls said there would be no “debtor’s prison” for individuals unable to pay.
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 responded 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, thinking that RECORCE could generate “millions of dollars a year.”
In line with state law, reimbursements would take priority behind other sentencing reimbursements, such as victim restitution, fines, public defender compensation and state surcharges. This is according to the county counsel’s office.
The county Probation Department would be responsible for collecting the money, and all remittances would be deposited directly into the county general fund, according to statements made at the board’s hearing.