County agrees to postpone prisoner fee
December 29, 2016
Southern Torch (3854 articles)
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County agrees to postpone prisoner fee

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

tyler@southerntorch.com

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — The DeKalb County Commission has agreed to delay the imposition of a fee on the cities for prisoners housed in the DeKalb County Jail. The cities and county have been at odds over the implementation of the fees for several months.

The $20/per day fee will be delayed until April 1, 2017. If no agreement is reached by this date, each city in DeKalb County will be responsible for paying $20 per day for each prisoner being held in the county jail on charges at the city level.

“There is a $40 per case court cost that is already levied on the cities for municipal inmates,” said Fort Payne City Attorney Rocky Watson in the meeting.

“I hope we’ll be having some meetings to resolve this issue by then,” said Watson.

“I’d written a letter on December 8, asking for a delay in any action on that until April 1, and they’ve agreed to informally delay it,” explained Watson.

The disagreement stemmed from a letter sent to each city several months ago, which informed them of the proposed implementation of the fee.

When asked about the fees, DeKalb County Commission President Ricky Harcrow made it clear that despite the agreed delay, the county intends to hold firm to it’s decision.

“The costs associated with housing inmates has skyrocketed over the last ten years,” Harcrow explained.  

“The $40 per case court cost only helps pay the bond issue for the new jail. This does nothing to offset the cost of feeding and caring for the prisoners. We can’t continue to house the city’s inmates for free,” he said.  

“There just isn’t the money,” Harcrow added.  

The City of Fort Payne and several other towns have also made it clear that they plan to fight the fee, with Fort Payne seeking an Attorney General’s opinion earlier this month.

Back on November 29 at the Fort Payne City Council meeting, Resolution 2016-37 was brought to the floor by City Clerk Robert Parker and adopted unanimously by the city council.

According to the City Clerk, the resolution, “Authorizes (City) Attorney Rocky Watson to seek an attorney general’s opinion regarding the proposed $20 fee the DeKalb County Commission has stated that it will levy against all cities and towns within DeKalb County.”

The DeKalb County Commission contends that the $20 fee will be utilized for the housing of each city and town’s prisoners in the county jail. Back in 2001, there was an act passed by the legislature (Act 2001-489) which levied a $40 court cost on all court cases in DeKalb County.

Act 2001-489, which applies only to DeKalb County, states, “Additional court costs in the amount of forty dollars ($40) to be assessed and taxed as cost on each civil case and on each criminal case, including traffic cases, but excluding small claims cases, filed in the circuit court, district court, or any municipal court in DeKalb County.”

The law continues to say, “The additional costs provided for herein, when collected by the clerks or their collection officers of the courts, shall be paid into the General Fund of DeKalb County to be held in a subaccount to be used by the DeKalb County Commission for the planning, designing, constructing, furnishing, equipping, and financing of a county jail and operating and maintenance costs associated with this jail and the county sheriff’s department.”

 

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

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