EVANSTON — New fees at the Uinta County Detention Center have been implemented. The fees are $45 per day, with a $15 booking fee assessed against any person being jailed. A one-day stay in the county facility will now cost inmates $60 for the privilege.
Many county and state facilities have been charging fees for some time now, and other states have been charging such fees as well. According to the county, these fees will help offset the expenses of incarcerating the inmates.
Uinta County has seen budget cuts of late, and more may be coming as state and federal cutbacks occur. The new fees may help the county by offsetting the cost of food, staffing and facilities maintenance at the detention center. The new fees will be reflected in the court reports that appear in the Herald each week.
The incarceration fees apply only to misdemeanor charges, not felonies. The provision has been a part of Wyoming law since 1996, but has not been implemented in Uinta County before.
The determining factors for the fees are set in such a way that the court must decide several things before imposing the fees. The statute states the fees cannot be assessed if the court finds the defendant has no ability to pay them, or if the fees would cause a manifest hardship on the inmate or the inmate’s family.
Uinta County Attorney Dean Stout emphasized budget troubles as the motivating factor behind the decision to implement the new fees.
“With all that’s going on in the county,” Stout stated in an interview, “we have asked the judges to allow this and they have been receptive. The statute has been on the books for a long time; we just think it’s time we used it. The fees won’t cover all the costs of inmates, but it may help offset them for the county.”
There is some question, though, whether the fees will be allowed to be implemented for those jailed through the city court. The city of Evanston pays fees to the county for detention center use, and whether it is legal to charge these fees to the city is under study.
“There will be a cap on the amounts we charge,” Stout stated. “We don’t know where that cap is just yet, but we’re looking into it.”