by Caitlin Huston
For each inmate on in-home detention, work release or probation, Cass County earns money.
Inmates sentenced to work release are responsible for paying $18 each day of their sentence, while the county is reimbursed $15 to $25 dollars for other inmates in the Community Transition Program. Dave Wegner, director of Cass-Pulaski Community Corrections said most inmates are able to meet the payment schedule; however, judges say the county and state are owed fees from unpaid court expenses.
In the Community Transition Program, inmates sentenced to jail time for felony convictions are able to go on work release a specified time period before their early release date. The Indiana Department of Corrections pays the corrections center $15 for class D felons, $20 for class C felons and $25 for class A and B felons.
The inmates themselves are expected to pay $5 each day they’re on work release through the transition program.
“Our goal is to allow them to save some money up so that they can secure housing,” Wegner said.
Inmates on regular work release, a separate arrangement from the Community Transition Program, are expected to pay $18 a day. Inmates on in-home detention are expected to pay $15 a day if they have a GPS ankle bracelet and $11 a day for regular monitoring.
There are reduced prices for low-income individuals on in-home detention.
For probation, individuals convicted of a misdemeanor pay $100 initially and then $20 each month they’re on probation. It’s $200 initially for felons and then $30 a month.
Inmates on work release aren’t charged until they find employment, Wegner said. He said most people in all of the programs are able to meet the fee requirements.
“Most people, they can pay the fees,” Wegner said.
Superior Court II Judge Rick Maughmer also said there are few people who do not pay.
“It’s the exception,” Maughmer said.
The fee, which inmates pay on a weekly basis, helps the inmates learn money management, Wegner said.
“One of the things we do is try to help them manage their money,” Wegner said.
If inmates don’t meet the fee schedule but have the ability to pay, Wegner said credit time can be taken away from them until they pay the amount.
Credit time is not taken away from people who can’t pay the fees for legitimate financial reasons, Wegner said.
While inmates are often able to keep up with the weekly fees, Maughmer said the problem is unpaid courts costs and fees.
“A lot of times some monies are assessed and are never paid,” Maughmer said.
Maughmer said his court had collected approximately $1 million in outstanding fees from this year.
Dave Arnold, president of the Cass County Commissioners, said most of that money goes to the state, with the county only taking a small percentage.
After a November vote from the Cass County Commissioners, Cass-Pulaski Corrections will house five more inmates on work release from the Indiana Department of Correction starting in 2013.
The county will receive $25 a day from the DOC for those inmates and could charge up to 40 percent of the gross pay individuals earn.
“That’s probably what we’ll be doing,” Wegner said.
Arnold said that money will help the county.
“That’s extra money that you really don’t plan on, ” Arnold said.
However, Cass-Pulaski Corrections has 40 beds for men and 12 for women and typically runs at capacity, Wegner said. He had not yet received any referrals from the DOC, he said, but when he did they would see if they had room.
“We have a right to say no,” Wegner said.
Until then, Wegner said they would continue to transition inmates who have completed the work release program to in-home detention.
“We want them in their home and we want to be able to monitor them in their home so we can make sure they’re properly transitioned into the community,” Wegner said.
Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.