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Oklahoma City's jail stay cost recovery program nets $2.9 million so far

Oklahoma City has recovered nearly $3 million in costs to jail people convicted of municipal offenses in the last six years, according to city records.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL Published: November 5, 2012

Oklahoma City is doing what it can to have people convicted of minor offenses bear the brunt of the cost for their brief jail stays.

And so far, it has eased the burden on city tax dollars by nearly $3 million over the past six years.

Oklahoma City's jail stay cost-recovery program has netted about $2.9 million since it went into effect in 2006, according to city records.

The city collected about $360,000 in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

“We've been collecting somewhere between $350,000 and half a million (dollars) every year,” said Stacey Davis, the city's municipal courts administrator.

The program adds a $117 fee to the court costs of people who are later convicted of a municipal crime to pay for the cost of a one-day jail stay.

Most people who are cited or arrested on a city violation or crime don't go to jail, even if convicted. But some offenses, particularly ones involving intoxication like drunken driving or violence like a fight, result in at least a short trip to jail before the case is adjudicated.

By charging the fee to those people who spend time in jail and are later convicted, it allows the city to draw fewer dollars from tax sources and from fines and fees paid for by violators who didn't have to go to jail.

“The guy who never went to jail doesn't have to pay for the guy who did go to jail,” Davis said.

The fee is the approximate cost of booking someone into jail, housing them there for up to a day, and releasing them, he said. Most people taken to jail on suspicion of committing a municipal offense spend less than 24 hours in jail even if they can't afford bail money, and many are out in less than 10 hours.

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