Mercer County delays incarceration fee

MERCER, Pa. -- The Mercer County Prison Board has delayed implementation of a daily inmate incarceration fee until Oct. 1.
There's no problem with the fee plan. It's just a matter of changing the accounting procedure for the project, said James Epstein, Mercer County district attorney and chairman of the prison board.
The process involves switching inmate accounts from the county treasurer's office to the clerk of courts and county cost coordinator, he said, explaining that the switch is taking longer than anticipated.
The change is being made because many of the fees will be collected from inmates after they are released, and the clerk of courts and cost coordinator, who handle fines and court costs, are better equipped to handle that, he said.
The fee was to be in place this month.
Mercer County has an average daily inmate population of 170 and an annual jail budget of $3.5 million.
The prison board hopes to cover some of those costs by charging inmates $10 a day for their incarceration and $3 for disciplinary hearings if they are found guilty of a infraction of the rules.
Charging a fee will also make the inmates face some of the financial responsibility of their actions, county officials have said.

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