Senate Bill 42 would prevent inmates with these unpaid debts from collecting cash winnings, getting recreational licenses and even getting tax refunds until they pay up.
"Once an inmate crosses our doors here at the jail, they become our responsibility," says Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay. He's one of the dozens of sheriffs that want inmates to pay back their room and board fees. "We are trying to recoup a lot of the board bills from the inmates that are in our county jails."
By law, inmates are supposed to pay the fees, but most of the time the county gets stuck with the bill.
Missouri Senator Brian Munzlinger's bill would prevent inmates who don't pay up from getting concealed carry permits, hunting or fishing licenses and from collecting lottery winnings until their debt is paid or in the process of being paid.
"I actually went up to the
house committee and was testifying," says Sheriff DeLay. "Why it's
important to the county side of it is these monies, if we don't recoup them
from the inmates basically they fall on the burden of the taxpayer. All the
"These inmates are actually state prisoners. They are brought in on state charges, they are prosecuted by the state prosecutor, seen by state judges, but they are housed at county jails."
Sheriff DeLay says he is confident of the progress the bill has made through the legislature so far. He also says this has been an opportunity to educate legislators.