Riverside County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to introduce a law requiring those convicted of crimes and sentenced to county jail to pay for their stays.
It costs an average of $142.42 per day to house someone in a jail. In order to collect the money, the board must have a formal ordinance in place.
The measure, sponsored by Supervisor Jeff Stone, is expected to come back before the board next week for final adoption.
With the ordinance, County Counsel Pamela Walls said the county does have the legal authority to seek reimbursement. But in a memo to supervisors, she said collecting the money may be difficult.
The courts must first determine whether a defendant has the ability to pay, Walls wrote. And the county isn’t first in line to get money from prisoners. Restitution to victims, state surcharges, fines and other charges are ahead of the county.
Walls said Tuesday the ordinance in no way creates a debtors jail and only applies to those convicted of crimes. Going after the money would only be done through a civil court action, she said.