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No Free Lunch

Most readers are aware of the growing practice of charging prisoners and jail detainees a fee for medical services. Two southern jurisdictions have introduced what may be the next wave - charging for meals.

Sheriff Bobby Knowles of the St. Lucie County Jail in Fort Pierce, Fla. announced that he will begin charging jail prisoners $1.20 a day for their rations, whether they eat them or not. The money will be deducted from commissary accounts, money deposited by friends or family, or from cash the prisoner was carrying when they were arrested. Trustees will get free meals. Those who don't have money on their accounts will also be fed, but the jail will run up a "tab" for them. If money is sent in to their account, or if they are rearrested at a later date and arrive with money in their pockets, some or all of it may be deducted to pay off their meal tab.

The Fairfield, Alabama, City Council has voted to start charging detainees for room and board in its city jail. The charge can be up to $20 a day. "We think jail should be a punishment, not a reward system," said Mayor Larry Langford. "We're spending from $50,000 to $80,000 a year on food for these people. Some of them are coming to jail when their medications run out, so they can keep their money and let the taxpayers pay for [their medications]. We're tired of it." The Mayor's statement speaks volumes for the draconian rightward shift in this country's social and economic policies.

Source: Corrections Digest

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