Oklahoma City inmates to pay for food, lodging

Tuesday, June 13th 2006, 1:18 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Prisoners will be required to pay for their food and lodging under a measure passed by the City Council on Tuesday.

Brought on by an amendment to a state law in 2004, the measure will require any inmates convicted on city charges to pay.

Stacey Davis, director of the Oklahoma City Municipal Courts, said jail stays for most city inmates are only one day because the breaking of a city ordinance results in a misdemeanor charge. Inmates who are imprisoned for only one day will pay a $150 fee that includes charges for their booking and release.

``Most people don't stay in and wait for their trial,'' Davis said.

Prisoners who remain in jail for more than one day will be charged $35 per day, Davis said. In addition to the booking, receiving and processing fees, the daily fees will pay for ``housing, food, clothing, medical care, dental care and psychiatric services,'' according to the ordinance.

Inmates previously were not charged any fees, Davis said.

Prisoners will be allowed to protest the fees if they feel they should be exempted on the basis of indigence, financial hardship or if they have a mental illness.

City Council members voted unanimously to pass the measure, which is expected to bring in $500,000 in revenue annually but cost $200,000 to administer. The projections are based on expectations that 25 percent of inmates will pay the fees.

The Jail Cost Recovery Program will allow the city to get back part of its cost to house inmates in the Oklahoma County jail. The city pays about $37 per inmate for each day spent in the jail.

At least six cities near the Oklahoma City metropolitan area - Midwest City, Norman, Mustang, Moore, Del City and Shawnee - already charge inmates for their jail time.