RSS FeedFacebookSearch
Gary Younge
American prisoners charged for room and board

In Macomb county in Michigan, "pay to stay" fees range from $8 (£4.34) to $56 a day, according to what an inmate can afford.

Former prisoners can go back to jail for not paying the bill or have their car seized by the local sheriff.

More than 40 states allow their jails to charge fees, according to the national institute of corrections.

The charges are popular with many, but campaigners for prisoners' rights say they place too heavy a financial burden on a group of people already poor and excluded.

Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general of Connecticut, told the New York Times: "Most inmates are not drug kingpins with lots of assets. In some cases, seizing assets may be counterproductive because it will interfere with their rehabilitation."

In many cases, the cost of collecting the fees also exceeds the amount recouped.

The Macomb county sheriff's department collected almost $1.5m in fees last year, and this week received its biggest single payment when the wife of an inmate serving six months for drunk driving handed in a cheque for $7,212.

The county's annual operating costs are $38m and the prison programme costs $120,000 a year.

"Why should we as taxpayers have to pay the whole cost of incarcerating these people who break the law?" asked Mark Hackel, the county sheriff.

Prisoners say the fees are steep for a shared cell and 2,800 calories a day.

De Juan Hunter, awaiting trial for receiving stolen property, told the New York Times that prison officials took $12 for lodging from the money he had on him when he was arrested.

"They are taking my money before I've been tried and convicted," he said.

© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
No Place Like Home – A Black Briton’s Journey through the American South
book review
'The idea of retracing the route is a great one, urgent and necessary.'
 follow on twitter
RT @DannyDutch: The flashing of black and white these Sandpipers display is caused by their black backs and white chests. Coupled with the…
@owen_g @OwenJones84 He lived there briefly
RT @Ffs_OMG: Best photo bomb you will see 🤣🤣🤣🐶 https://t.co/xQIvhnNUQc
@tinysunbird Thanks Christie. What a cad! My first date was to see tic and toc at the Gordon Craig. She did show; I… https://t.co/xXBow6J5ns
RT @jennylaville: Remember you can do your bit for Children In Need this year simply by not voting Conservative.
"Labour made Stevenage out of concrete and high hopes, with the sense of purpose that they would build the NHS two… https://t.co/8BAIGkzFm1
RT @davidschneider: Brexit Party members discovering Nigel Farage isn’t what he claimed to be after all. https://t.co/aN3g8yzj7L
RT @MichaelRosenYes: What kind of 'economy' can it be, if commentators say that the 'economy' is doing well but there are millions of peopl…
RT @BestForBritain: Dear @jeremycorbyn and @joswinson, Experts are trying to tell you, very clearly, what might happen and why. A minorit…
RT @SpillerOfTea: Getting pissed and shitting yourself at the work’s Christmas do is ‘letting the side down’. Hanging out with a convicted…
© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc