Florida County Plans on Charging Inmates for their Meals

Jackson County will start charging inmates for their meals in an attempt to alleviate the state paying for the food.

Starting October 1, inmates will be required to pay $2.70 a day for their meals, as approved in a recent commission meeting.

The reason behind the change is being spearheaded by Jackson County jail administrator Mark Foreman, who wants the revenue to be used for $150-per-month hazard pay he wants to offer all the employees at the correctional facility.

The facility currently employs around 50 different positions. Foreman believes that if only half of the inmates paid they could see an increase of $98,800 annually.

The way he plans on getting the money is through what he calls a “daily subsistence fee,” where he believes he can legally access the accounts that inmates have created for people to give money to the inmates while they are incarcerated.

The board approved it as a pilot program after initially tabling the notion advising Foremen to check with court officials to get their input.

If the program does not go as planned it has been advised that they will pull the program after reviewing it after it has been in place for 120 days.

After inmates family friends and family raised concerns, interim jail chief Capt. Jammie Jeter advised of how the implementation of the plan will go.

Jeter advised that no inmate will be denied food if their account doesnt have money to cover the fee. Instead, the inmate will build up a debt that will last three years on their books and any money given to the inmate will go towards the debt. Many feared that the three years of debt would prolong the release of inmates but Jeter stated that it will not affect release dates but if the inmate is arrested again within the three years, the debt will still be there.

Currently, there is a policy that withholds 60 percent of the funds in inmates accounts to cover debts that incur while in jail such as booking fees and other expenses. Jeter stated that the meal fee will be withdrawn from that 60 percent and not the other 40 percent that inmates can use as they please. If there is any money left over from the 60 percent that was withheld when inmates are released they are to receive it back.

Since it is manditory to provide the food to inmates, they will still be charged if they choose not to eat.

If an inmate is in jail for less than 24-hours the new policy will not affect them.

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