SACRAMENTO – New legislation by Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) would require a court to order a criminal to reimburse the state for the cost of his or her incarceration if they are able. SB 1124 would lessen the stress on the state budget by defraying the costs of prison stays of those who have the resources to pay, according to a news release from his office. “We hear about a Millionaire’s Tax, but what about the millionaires that we are paying to incarcerate? If someone convicted of a crime can afford to pay for their prison time, they should,” Cannella said in the release. “It’s unfair that we are making cuts to vital parts of the state budget that affect our most vulnerable, when many inmates who have the means to pay, stay free-of-charge.” The annual cost of incarcerating an inmate in a California state prison has more than doubled over the last 20 years. The bill would require a defendant to file a financial disclosure statement in order for the courts to determine the ability to pay for incarceration. While the courts currently have the authority to compel disbursement from a convicted defendant to the state for these expenses, this power is rarely used, according to the release. “The California District Attorneys Association supports this effort to provide additional funding for our criminal justice system,” said Chief Executive Officer Scott Thorpe in the news release. “With the substantial new responsibilities that come with incarcerating more offenders locally, it is critically important that convicted defendants contribute toward the costs of the time they spend behind bars.” SB 1124 will be heard in front of the Senate Public Safety Committee on April 17, 2012.
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