Home | Subscribe To The Final Call | Books & Tapes e-Store| Letters/Contact Us | TV & Radio  

Last Updated: Jun 1, 2010 - 1:27:41 AM 

Front Page 
Minister Louis Farrakhan
National News
World News
Business & Money
Entertainment News
Health & Fitness
Finalcall.com Español
FinalCall.com Web Video
FCN UK & International Edition
Sister Space
The Time And What Must Be Done Series
NOI Prison Reform
Straight Words

Subscribe to FCN E-List

Enter email address:

Email Delivery Format:
HTML  Plain Text
Manage Your Subscription

The Untold Story
of Hurricane Katrina

Exclusive Webcast:
The Havana Cuba
Press Conference

FCN, March 27, 2006


Jail fees a cruel twist to ‘paying your dues’
By Dannie Martin
-Guest Columnist-
Updated Oct 31, 2006 - 8:57:00 PM

What's your opinion on this article?

 Printable page

A survey of the jail population reveals that there are no rich people here and they are all out on bail. The middle-class is barely represented, so the cost of the jail falls on the abject poor, who make up the majority of the jail population.
In a time when corporations are operating jails and prisons for profit, local jails are getting in on the act.The Warren County jail in Bowling Green, Ky. is operating one such "pay as you go" jail. Inmates are charged a $20 processing fee to be booked in and $20 dollars a day for every day they remain in the jail. A visit to the jail doctor runs $20, and $5 for a visit to the jail nurse.

If prescriptions are filled outside the jail, the actual cost is billed and it is a $5 co-pay for jail medicine such as aspirin. The jail has a firm policy forbidding any narcotic medication; so apparently, severe pain is against jail rules here.

Danny Lindsay, 23, has been in Warren County jail for one week after being sentenced to 60 days for contempt of court. He says he takes medicine for a rare blood disorder and gets it free outside with his medical insurance. Jail staff, he says, would not let his family send in his medicine, so they choose to fill it at a local pharmacy. His family sent him $60 to spend at the jail commissary and the jail took $30 of it to apply toward his bill. That’s standard procedure here. The bottom of his money receipt shows a balance due to the jail of $589."That’s over $600 a week, man. After 60 days, I’ll owe $5,000," Lindsay says.

About one-third of county jails in the United States charge inmates for their time behind bars, according to a May 23, 2004, Associated Press report. In Minnesota, Olmstead County suspended its "pay-to-stay" program after losing close to $6,000 in four months. The state of Missouri did better, gouging inmates for a total of $384,000 over several months, according to the AP.

Here, new arrivals are issued one mattress, one blanket, a sheet, a towel, a small bar of motel soap and a three-inch toothbrush with enough paste for one brushing. A jumpsuit is the only clothing issued. No shorts, no socks, no shoes—no anything. Underwear, shoes and socks can be purchased at the commissary at exorbitant rates.

Food can also be purchased and the jail fare is sparse to say the least. Some inmates try to ignore their medical needs to keep from going hungry all day. Hunger makes a day seem longer than illness. One uneducated hillbilly from the far reaches of Harlan County, Kentucky, looks at his docked money slips and says something that sounds almost philosophical. "We ain’t presumed innocent no more. We are presumed in arrears!!"

A survey of the jail population reveals that there are no rich people here and they are all out on bail. The middle-class is barely represented, so the cost of the jail falls on the abject poor, who make up the majority of the jail population.

Someone says to Danny Lindsay: "The hell with them. They can’t make you pay that five grand once you get out." "No, but if I don’t pay it," Lindsay replies, "they will turn it over to a collection agency and ruin my credit for the rest of my life." Life without credit seems like a harsh sentence for contempt of court.

(Dannie Martin is currently behind bars in the Warren County Regional Jail in Bowling Green, Ky. He is co-author of "Committing Journalism: The Prison Writings of Red Hog.")


FCN is a distributor (and not a publisher) of content supplied by third parties. Original content supplied by FCN and FinalCall.com News is Copyright 2009 FCN Publishing, FinalCall.com. Content supplied by third parties are the property of their respective owners.

Top of Page

Latest Headlines
Is the latest ‘Muslim terror plot’ just another distraction from more serious issues?
Black Manhood: A conversation with Steve Harvey
'Dear White people'
A stolen people up for auction
Silent Night, Holy Night: The Night of Majesty and The Revelation of The Holy Qur’an
Behind the Sound Bites Lies the Hideous Truth
Minister Louis Farrakhan's Letter on Jay Electronica, Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival
Spying on American Muslims—again
Through the eyes of children