Pretrial Cost Recovery is Critical to Provision of the Service

MACo submitted written testimony in opposition to Senate Bill 484, “Criminal Procedure – Pretrial Release – Fees”, to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 8, 2018. This would prohibit local jails from placing fees on any pretrial services. Many of these fees are charged simply to compensate for costs on providing these services and no profits are made off of the fees imposed. This prohibition would potentially undermine and imperil developing pretrial service programs.

From MACo Testimony:

This bill sets a broad prohibition on the ability of local jails to impose fees for pretrial services, which may result in unintended consequences affecting the ability to provide pretrial services.

Pretrial services help to mitigate the fiscal and human cost concerns with unnecessary incarceration. These programs support safety and efficiency by ensuring that the appropriate high-risk individuals are incarcerated while the appropriate low-risk individuals are released. Pretrial conditions for release may include reminder calls, electronic monitoring, and drug testing, as well as mental health or substance abuse treatment or counseling.

It is important to note that pretrial services do not always include fees, and when fees are assessed they frequently merely help to recoup some share of actual service costs. They are not imposed for profit. Additionally, there are often requirements for the fees to be waived if a defendant is indigent and cannot afford to pay.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.