February 17, 2018

"Michigan is one of more than 40 states where prisoners can be forced to pay for the cost of their incarceration..."

"Laws that allow the government to charge prisoners 'room and board' or 'cost of care' fees have proliferated in recent decades, as states charge inmates and parolees for everything from medical care, clothing and meals to police transport, public defense fees, drug testing and electronic monitoring.... During the last fiscal year, Michigan collected some $3.7 million from 294 prisoners, who account for just a fraction of the state’s nearly 40,000 inmates. Around the country, some 10 million people owe $50 billion in fees stemming from their arrest or imprisonment.... H. Bruce Franklin, author of 'Prison Literature in America,' said that if prisoners who publish books are forced to forfeit their advances and royalties to the state, it could dissuade aspiring writers who are incarcerated from seeking to publish at all."

From "A Prisoner Got a Book Deal. Now the State Wants Him to Pay for His Imprisonment" (NYT).

The article is about Curtis Dawkins, whom I blogged about here, last July.

27 comments:

Ralph L said...

The Brits used to charge people for being in debtor's prison.

Matthew Sablan said...

I kind of view it like the whole lawyer thing in the Miranda's rights. If you can't afford it, it will be provided for you. But if you can, I don't see why the state should foot the bill while Richy Richerson cools his heels in jail. It may be considered unfair if the middle or upper classes are essentially punished more than people who can't pay for their incarceration so the state picks up the tab, but...I'm sure we can find some way to make it equitable without doing anything exploitative.

Amexpat said...

I could see charging wealthy prisoners for money acquired before incarceration. If the state were to take 100% of future earnings, there would be no motivation to work legally. A payback of 15 or 20% of future income, above minimum wage, seems like a workable solution to paying back the state .

Fernandistein said...

The Michigan Department of Corrections will close a Muskegon prison in March because the state prison population has hit a 20-year low, the agency announced

MadisonMan said...

The State never met a source of income it didn't like. This tax -- I'll call it a tax -- seems kinda steep to me.

Leland said...

there would be no motivation to work legally.

Why wait until prison to provide motivation?

traditionalguy said...

The old Chain Gang days redux. Legal slaves now made into share croppers.

But we need to find some way to get some work out of the Clintons.

Bay Area Guy said...

As Milton Friedman once said, there's no such thing as a free Brunch.

n.n said...

How about tax? Tax is good. You got a problem with tax?

Saint Croix said...

Worse to be a pregnant prisoner in California

Although I refused to consent to an abortion, she scheduled me for an abortion. When I refused to go, she had two men come to my housing pod, trying to forcibly take me to have an abortion. When I again refused to agree to an abortion, the deputies yelled at me and told me I was on drugs. From then on, their treatment of me grew more abusive and worse.

From that time on, if I requested medical care, or said I was not feeling well, the housing guards... would all tell me that my problem was that I was on drugs, and they would strip me, meaning they would subject me to the humiliating and degrading practice of doing strip search and body cavity search. To do these searches, they would take me and often another pregnant woman and put us in the isolation or solitary confinement cells. We would have to stay there for hours. Then they would often take us to another room, make us strip naked, squat, and show our vagina, our anal cavities, and our mouth.

Saint Croix said...

Worse to be a pregnant prisoner in California

Although I refused to consent to an abortion, she scheduled me for an abortion. When I refused to go, she had two men come to my housing pod, trying to forcibly take me to have an abortion. When I again refused to agree to an abortion, the deputies yelled at me and told me I was on drugs. From then on, their treatment of me grew more abusive and worse.

From that time on, if I requested medical care, or said I was not feeling well, the housing guards... would all tell me that my problem was that I was on drugs, and they would strip me, meaning they would subject me to the humiliating and degrading practice of doing strip search and body cavity search. To do these searches, they would take me and often another pregnant woman and put us in the isolation or solitary confinement cells. We would have to stay there for hours. Then they would often take us to another room, make us strip naked, squat, and show our vagina, our anal cavities, and our mouth.

tcrosse said...

The Nazis made Jews pay the train fare to Auschwitz.

mockturtle said...

My heart bleeds for these aspiring writers.

ken in tx said...

In the 70s, when I was in Thailand, I learned that prisoners in Thai jails had to buy their own food. If they didn't have any money or friends and relatives to bring them food, they didn't eat. Americans in Thai jails were fed by the American Consulate or Embassy.

Bruce Gee said...

Having done some volunteer work in a local “last stop before you’re out” prison here in Wisconsin, the guys who were allowed out with work privileges had their earnings escrowed, and some of that was deducted for their “room and board”. Hey, they might as well get used to seeing their earnings go away for living expenses, just like the rest of us. The guys I knew were coming out of prison with a couple thousand dollars to spend.

Browndog said...

County jails do it too. $6/day, plus booking fee.

Hagar said...

Fee based law enforcement - and corrections - is an open invitation for abuse and corruption.

Hagar said...

It is how "Southern sheriffs" became "Southern sheriffs" inn fact and legend.

Freeman Hunt said...

That's ridiculous. We, the law-abiding, are the ones getting the benefit; that's why we pay for it.

Prison commissaries are ridiculous too.

EDH said...

I believe Saddam billed families for the cost of the bullets used to execute their kin, didn't he?

During the last fiscal year, Michigan collected some $3.7 million from 294 prisoners, who account for just a fraction of the state’s nearly 40,000 inmates. Around the country, some 10 million people owe $50 billion in fees stemming from their arrest or imprisonment...

Ah, the joys of being "judgement proof".

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

My heart bleeds for these aspiring writers.

Perhaps they have families on the outside whom they would like to support in some fashion.

Ralph L said...

They can right a book about their struggle and make millions.

Jeff said...

Around the country, some 10 million people owe $50 billion in fees stemming from their arrest or imprisonment...

If you want ex-cons to become productive members of society, this is exactly the wrong thing to do. If a released prisoner gets a legit job, the debt collectors for the state will confiscate some or all of their earnings. To avoid that, they will work in the underground economy or some kind of criminal enterprise that is not subject to the prison debt tax.

Of course, if we actually gave a shit about prisoners and rehabilitation and all that, we would start by doing the simple, easy stuff, like protecting them from rape while in custody. Instead we make jokes about horrendous, easily preventable crimes.




Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Hmmm. The Government decides what services you will be allowed to purchase and what you will be charged for them.

Where have I heard that before. Ah, yes. The Afraudable Care Act.

Jupiter said...

H. Bruce Franklin, author of 'Prison Literature in America,' said that if prisoners who publish books are forced to forfeit their advances and royalties to the state, it could dissuade aspiring writers who are incarcerated from seeking to publish at all."

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Ann Althouse said...

I’d rather see the money compensate the victims. Why should we cry about his children deserving the money form Dawkins’s book when he murdered someone? The victim’s estate should be in line for the money.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Of course, if we actually gave a shit about prisoners and rehabilitation and all that, we would start by doing the simple, easy stuff, like protecting them from rape while in custody. Instead we make jokes about horrendous, easily preventable crimes."

I agree. Keeping civilized order inside the prison should be priority two. (Priority one is, obviously, keeping the prisoners inside the prison.)