Lancaster County prison set to drop $10 daily fee for inmates

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 29, 2016 1:06 PM

(Lancaster) -- A midstate county is dropping its daily fee for prisoners.

Lancaster County's Prison Board recently voted unanimously to end the $10 a day fee for inmates, effective January first.

Lancaster County has assessed the charge since 1993.

The average inmate was left with a $670 bill at the end of their stay.

County Commissioner Josh Parsons says only about one to three percent of former inmates actually pay up, despite the county's best efforts, including using a collection agency.

"The prison believes it makes a lot of sense to get rid of it. Obviously the prison board agreed because they voted unanimously for it. And I'll tell ya, we get a lot of people who come to our prison board meetings, and everyone there seemed to be in agreement with what we were doing," says Parsons.

Parsons - who is also head of Lancaster County's Prison Board - says the change should have little impact on the county's finances.

He says prison staff will now be able to focus on their jobs, instead of counting up bills and trying to collect payments.

"This did not make sense because it was not effective. We were spending a lot of time figuring out what the bill should be and assessing the bill, and we were collecting almost none of it," he adds.

Parsons says existing bills will not be wiped out though - those former inmates will still owe their balance, and collection efforts could impact their credit.

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