US makes pris­on­ers pay

Lesotho Times - - International -

OHIO — A wide­spread prac­tice in the United States (US) known as “pay to stay” charges jail in­mates a daily fee while they are in­car­cer­ated. For those who are in and out of the lo­cal county or city lock-ups — par­tic­u­larly those strug­gling with ad­dic­tion — that can lead to sky-high debts.

David Ma­honey is $21,000 in debt. Not from credit cards. Not from school loans.

He’s ac­cu­mu­lated the mas­sive tab be­cause of the days he spent locked up in the lo­cal jail in Mar­ion, Ohio, which is a small town with a ma­jor heroin epi­demic. Ma­honey, a lanky 41-year-old, has strug­gled with ad­dic­tion since he was a teenager, even­tu­ally steal­ing to fuel his habit. He got caught a lot, even bur­gling the same bar twice.

“The urge to use co­caine and crack — that’s what it led to it. Once I start us­ing there’s no go­ing back for me,” he says.

To­day, he’s 14 months sober, and is a res­i­dent and em­ployee of the Ar­nita Pittman Com­mu­nity Re­cov­ery Cen­ter, a sober liv­ing house on the north­ern edge of town. His coun­sel­lor says he is do­ing “awe­some” and he hopes to one day to be­come an ad­dic­tion coun­sel­lor him­self.

But while Ma­honey may have left his habits be­hind, he can’t shake his debt. It has ac­cu­mu­lated over 15 years of trou­ble with the law and is a sep­a­rate charge from the resti­tu­tion he must pay to the vic­tims he stole from, or any ad­min­is­tra­tive costs he has in­curred by go­ing to court. It comes from a daily “pay-tostay” fee — some­times called “pay for stay” — that he was charged by the lo­cal jail, the Multi-county Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter. He was charged $50 each day he spent in jail, plus a $100 book­ing fee. It works al­most as if he checked into a ho­tel and got a bill when he checked out.

“Ob­vi­ously, it’s my fault I’m in the sit­u­a­tion I am in. I’m try­ing to start over,” he says. “Peo­ple that end up in jail are usu­ally down on their luck any­way. They’re go­ing through some tri­als and tribu­la­tions in life. Why fo­cus on the peo­ple who are al­ready strug­gling?”

He is not alone — the guy that lives down the hall from him at the sober liv­ing house

United States in­tro­duces what is known as “pay to stay” charges jail in­mates a daily fee.

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