Sheriff confirms jail fees, open to solutions to keep people out of jail

Sheriff Kevin Williams would rather persons avoid jail time by showing up for court and working out payment plans for their fees and fines, instead of facing arrest and even more costly fines.

By Kathryn “Chazz” Hirschfeld
Staff writer
HAMILTON — The Journal Record reached out to Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams concerning the recent ordinance passed in Bear Creek related to increased fines for persons with misdemeanor charges failing to show up for municipal court.
According to the article on the matter written by Chad Fell of the Northwest Alabamian, the main reasoning for the ordinance is to deter persons from missing court dates, as well as to help the Town of Bear Creek cover the jail costs associated with persons who fail to show up for court and are subsequently arrested.
(Of note, Bear Creek does give offenders a one-time grace period for failure to appear in court, but after that time, their patience runs out, and fines and arrest warrants are put in place by the new ordinance.)
Regarding jail fees, although all cities can have differing court costs amounts, the Marion County Jail has the same set fees associated with inmates, male or female.
“All the towns are charged the same for each inmate per day,” Williams said. “When someone is arrested and brought to jail, there’s a $25 one-time lock-up (booking) fee, plus a $25 per day housing fee, plus $5 each day for meals.
“So the first day, there is a $55 cost to lock someone up. Then, the next day they are in jail, there’s the $25 housing fee and the $5 food fee or $30 per day. And the longer they stay in jail, the longer that $30 racks up.
“That’s what the cities have to pay, from Bear Creek to Winfield and anywhere in between.”
The majority of those funds are paid to the county commission, with the sheriff’s office receiving the $5 per day food allowance, with $2.75 being added per person by the state for food.
“We have to buy in bulk, but now, with the cost of groceries going up so high, we’re losing money,” he noted.
Williams noted he was not sure, but some towns may charge additional amounts and counties can charge differing amounts, as well.
“Each city that has a court has its own jurisdiction, and its own municipal court can set its own fees, whatever they decide. They do have to go by a specific chart--set by statute and law--for fines, but they figure their own court costs,” he said.


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