Whoever said crime doesn’t pay wasn’t talking about jail fees.
In what is becoming an annual rite, Sheriff Greg Munks on Tuesday will ask the Board of Supervisors to increase the current $303 jail access fee to $340. The jail access fee nearly covers the processing of booking suspects as opposed to the booking fee once charged which is capped by the state at half the 2006 cost.
The $37 hike, if adopted, follows past years in which the fee has inched up to narrow the difference between the actual price of taking suspects into jail and the state reimbursement. In 2009, that cost was calculated at $303.65 but Munks suggested only increasing the then-$215 fee to $246. In 2010, the fee moved to $303.
A 2011 study commissioned by the Sheriff’s Office calculated the current cost of an actual booking as $409.21.
This year’s proposal all but closes the gap for fiscal year 2011-12 and is estimated to bring $595,448 in revenue to the Sheriff’s Office budget, according to Munk’s staff report to the board.
The figure is already added in to the recommended budget.
Booking fees are required of each arresting agency each time a suspect is taken into custody at the Maguire Correctional Facility or Women’s Correctional Center. Since 1994, the fee has ranged from $159 to the flat $202 rate of 2003 through 2005. In recent years, booking fees were considered fair game by state legislators seeking ways to lower the debt and balance the budget. The passage of Senate Bill 1006 allowed the state to stop reimbursing cities for the fees and capped the amount charged at 50 percent of the 2006 cost of booking in an inmate.
In 2007, the booking fee was replaced with a state appropriation of at least $35 million to the Local Detention Facilities Fund which in turn gives money to counties based on their previous booking fee revenue. In 2009, the money’s source switched from the state general fund to the vehicle license fee.
Although Munks is recommending a jail access fee over a booking fee, budget unknowns on the state level could require more changes. Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget doesn’t provide for a general fund appropriation and the VLF increase sunsets June 30. If the state no longer funds the fee, Munks may return to charging each city based on the capped rate.
While the fee is going up, the number of bookings is fluctuating. In 2008-2009, 18,398 people were booked into custody but only 16,588 in 2009-2010. This year’s population is projected at 17,500.
Local law enforcement agencies have been notified of the expected change.
The Board of Supervisors meets 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 7 in Board Chambers, 400 County Government Center, Redwood City.