The idea of charging inmates for the state’s taking away their freedom as punishment is something that has been talked about by many, mostly by county commissioners looking for a way to save a buck. In the 90’s this was discussed in Huron County, and the judges had the last say on it, saying that it amounts to punishing a person twice for the same offense.
Also, since the person would have to ideally pay the county back on his or her release, the judges saw this as another roadblock to these folks re-entering society.
Then there is also the old saying that you cannot get something from folks who have nothing, as is the case with most of the people serving time at the jail.
If we want to look at some radical approaches, how about reviving community service for non violent offenses, like DUI? In the 1980s Norwalk used this approach for traffic offenders at the local recycling center, the offenders worked off their fines and also provided a service for the community.
Couldn’t these offenders help tend the parks, pick up litter and work at senior centers, the homeless shelter and other places that need help but don’t have the money to pay for it?
Maybe instead of incarceration, we should think re-education of these offenders, we might find that some of the lessons might take hold.
Patrick R. Saunders