Under Michigan law, counties are allowed to charge people incarcerated in county jails as much as $60 per day to recoup the cost of incarcerating them. Before this resolution was passed by the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners, the county was charging $25 per day to people detained in the Ottawa County jail. This policy was extremely burdensome—for instance, one detainee spent 537 days in jail before being sentenced to state prison, resulting in a bill of $13,425 that will increase to $24,165 if he is unable to pay on time. In 2017, the jail assessed $1.7 million in “housing fees” and only collected 2.6% of that sum, or $46,252.
Under the new billing system, detainees will be charged a flat fee of $60 for their incarceration, regardless of how long they stay. County staff predict that this will increase the county’s net housing fee collections from around $40,000 to around $120,000.
…most incarcerated persons are typically unable to maintain their employment during incarceration and after release can encounter difficulties securing well-paying work such that the County’s practical ability to collect the full payment of their stay at the Ottawa County jail is compromised and often unproductive. –Text of Resolution