Supreme Court ruling affects local 'pay to stay' programGoodhue County sheriff's officials will have to tweak their policy regarding the "pay to stay" program following a Minnesota Supreme Court decision.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County sheriff's officials will have to tweak their policy regarding the "pay to stay" program following a Minnesota Supreme Court decision.
The high court ruled Thursday that counties can still make inmates pay costs associated with their jail stay - but only after they've been convicted.
Most counties utilizing the program, including Goodhue, billed convicted inmates given jail sentences for time they spent behind bars awaiting trial or other court proceedings if judges gave them credit for time served.
Counties must stop that practice under the Supreme Court ruling.
"If they have been given credit for time served, that's guilty time. That's part of their sentence," Goodhue County Sheriff Dean Albers said Friday. "If that's part of their sentence, they owe us that money."
The Supreme Court ruling this week came in the case of Andrew Jones, who spent 286 days in the Olmsted County jail.
Jones was not able to post bail and remained behind bars in Rochester until he pleaded guilty in November 2004 to three counts of aggravated robbery and was sentenced in January 2005 to more than six years in prison.
Olmsted County officials billed Jones $7,150, or $25 for each day he was confined.
Jones sued but a district court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in the county's favor and ordered he pay the bill.
The Supreme Court's decision overturned that ruling.
In the wake of expected budget cuts, Goodhue County officials in July started charging convicted inmates $25 daily to stay in the local jail. Albers said inmates have paid about $900 under the program, which local officials modeled after Winona County's.
Winona County's program brings in about $90,000 annually, Sheriff's Capt. Steve Buswell told the Star Tribune. The captain expects the county will lose about 25 percent of that revenue because of this week's ruling.
Albers said jail officials are working to reword their policy but that the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association would lobby legislators to have the law allowing "pay to stay" clarified.
Albers is a past president of the sheriffs' organization.