Garfield County jail to charge inmates a booking fee
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office is expected to soon begin charging new inmates at the county jail a $30 booking fee. The fee would replace a $15-a-day fee that is now imposed on convicted inmates.
The Garfield County commissioners on Monday approved directing County Attorney Don DeFord to draft a resolution that would detail the elements of the county’s booking fee. The commissioners will later vote on the resolution.
Sheriff Lou Vallario appeared before the commissioners on Monday to tell them of the plan to implement the $30 booking fee. He said the current “cost of care” program that charges inmates $15 a day, brings in about $36,000 a year.
However, the program costs the county about $50,000 to administer. The county has to wait until a conviction to collect the accumulated total from the $15-a-day fee, and the process often ends up with the county sending its bill for an inmate’s stay to a collection agency.
“It’s a time-consuming process,” Vallario said.
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By charging inmates $30 when they are booked into the jail instead, the county will bring in an estimated $80,000 to $90,000.
Vallario said any inmate whose case is dismissed or who is found not guilty can reclaim the $30 booking fee, which would come out of an inmate account the sheriff’s office sets up when an individual comes into the jail.
“It’s pocket change,” Vallario said of the fee and its overall impact on the county jail’s budget. However, he said, the fee is just another way for the county to minimize the county taxpayers’ burden.
At least 20 percent of the money generated from the booking fee would have to be directed toward county mental-health services.