CLINTON—Anderson County inmates could soon pay for items such as pants and shirts, bras and underwear, and toothpaste and toilet paper, with costs ranging from three cents for soap to $24.65 for a coat.
The new fees were approved with no opposition by the Anderson County Commission on Monday. The money would be deducted from the inmate’s jail trust account or any other account or fund set up for the prisoner. The fees would not be added to court costs.
The supply fees were one of three new sets of inmate fees approved by commissioners on Monday.
Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager said the new supply fees would reduce the taxpayers’ burden. However, they would not allow the jail administrator to deny necessary clothing or hygiene items, or fail to provide certain services based on the inmate’s ability to pay.
Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank unsuccessfully asked commissioners to give her 30 days to research the constitutionality of the proposal.
She said the burden of the new fees could fall on the inmates’ families, rather than on the inmates themselves. Frank also raised questions about some of the details of the proposal, including whether families could continue to bring toilet paper to inmates and whether the prisoners would own their supplies, such as jumpsuits.
The supply fees have gained national attention, featured in a story in Time magazine.
“Anderson County is only the latest in a long line of cash-strapped municipalities to levy fees to help fund their criminal-justice systems,” Time said.
Yeager told Time that taxpayers pay $62 a day to house one inmate, and the costs of inmate care, medical care, and housing care have all escalated during the past few years.
“It’s an unreasonable burden on our taxpayers,” Yeager told the magazine. “What we’re trying to do is shift the burden off the taxpayers’ back, to the inmates.”
On Monday, the law director said certain personal hygiene supplies will have to be supplied, and the county will only recover the inmate costs. He said the new fees could make inmates think twice before flooding their cells by clogging up toilets by flushing too much toilet paper—or other items like underwear.
The resolution approved by commissioners on Monday also allows the county to recover inmate costs’ for participating in GED or other scholastic testing, escorting prisoners to hospitals or other health care facilities to visit immediate family members who are patients, or visiting churches or funeral homes when an immediate family member dies.
Also Monday, commissioners approved resolutions setting up a $50-per-day fee for misdemeanor prisoners and removing a $500 cap, and establishing inmate co-pay amounts and reimbursements for medical and dental care, pharmacy services, and substance abuse treatment.
Commissioners approved both resolutions on voice votes with no opposition after brief discussions.
Yeager said the per-day fees would be at the discretion of the jail administrator or court clerks, and the charges “would not be held over prisoners’ heads.” The costs could not be used to keep inmates incarcerated or to revoke their probations.
County officials said it wasn’t clear how much the collections of the per-day fees might increase. Last year, more than $100,000 was collected through those fees, Chief Jailer Avery Johnson said.
Here are the new inmate supply fees:
- inmate pants—$9.15,
- inmate shirt—$7.59,
- female gown—$6.90,
- female underwear—$0.71,
- female bra—$1.72,
- wash rag—$0.13,
- mattress cover—$5.40,
- toilet paper—$0.29,
- razors—$0.04, and
- sanitary napkins—$0.05
Those fees could total $70.04.
The fee for a mattress is $36.90.