‘Pay to Stay’ Prison Policy Discussion on Volusia County Council Agenda | WNDB

Sean Mooney

DeLand, Florida – A proposal being discussed at the Volusia County Council meeting on Tuesday could require prisoners to pay while they are behind bars.

It’s because of Florida status which allows county jails to charge inmate living expenses – the cost associated with feeding, clothing and health care for inmates – to ease the “increasing financial burdens” on counties and cities caused by operating expenses of detention centres. Currently, Volusia County does not charge any of these fees to a prisoner despite charging medical bills.

Meanwhile, 50 of the other 67 counties in the state, excluding Volusia, charge a daily resort fee and/or one-time administrative reservation fee. A 2021 survey found that the average daily fee charged by agencies that reported fees was $2.60. The lowest reported was $1.50 and the highest was $5. The average reservation fee charged was $20, while the lowest was $6 and the highest was $30.

A presentation prepared by County Corrections Division Director Mark Flowers shows his agency recommends a one-time booking fee of $20 and a daily fee of up to $5. A breakdown of the possible revenue the county can earn shows the county could earn between $99,414 and $165,690 in a fiscal year if a booking fee of $15 or $25 is imposed on prisoners. Meanwhile, if the county were to charge $5 daily living expenses, it could reap more than $1.012 million in revenue.

The $5 daily fee alone would be enough to offset the cost of feeding an inmate for the day, since, according to Flower’s presentation, it currently costs $3.09 per day to feed an inmate, or 1.03 $ spent per meal.

Some fear that fees will be imposed on inmates who come from destitute situations outside of incarceration. The Florida statute referred to in this proposal, however, allows fees to be levied based on the “financial circumstances of prisoners for the purpose of paying out of their earnings all or an equitable portion of their daily living expenses.” On the other hand, inmates who work while incarcerated may be exempt from fees.

News Daytona Beach has reached out to Volusia County District 3 Representative Danny Robins, who supports the “Pay to Stay” policy, for comment. We also reached out to VCDC Director Mark Flowers for comment. We have not yet received a response from either.

Volusia County Council is due to meet on Tuesday, February 15.

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