Legal But Not Moral

Riverside County is beginning to charge inmates an incarceration fee up to a $142 a day, to defray costs of food, clothing, healthcare, security and other jail expenses. Trinity County in Northern California charges $20 a say, Glenn County up to $59 a day and Los Angeles County is talking about doing the same thing. These are on top of other court ordered fees inmates are to pay, fees for labs, attorneys and the like. In many cases individuals also have the expenses of private attorneys. The law empowers the country to garnish wages, place liens on properties, go after anything the person owns, RV’s cars, future earnings and investments. The Riverside board of supervisors voted unanimously for this law and Jeff Stone who proposed it believes it is a way for the county in tight fiscal times to recover some of its losses. Others believe it is plain wrong, that it would interfere with the reentry into society of many former inmates and place a heavy burden on their families. Someone incarcerated up to 6 months in Riverside County could end up owing some $25,000.
It is a law that calls to mind many things, penny wise and pound foolish for one, since in the long run it is bound to create more problems than it might solve. It also calls to mind the idea of double jeopardy and of cruel and unusual punishment. It even makes one think of debtors’ prisons. No matter what it may make us think of, it is an example that what is legal does not always coincide with what is moral.