Comments about ‘Jay Evensen: No more rent for inmates — a decision that makes good sense’

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Published: Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:10 a.m. MDT

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This is an incredibly good article and very surprising from the DN. I have worked a lot with prisoner advocacy groups in Utah and I am very familiar with this and other problems that cause a vicious cycle encouraging ex-offenders to re-offend and drive up the recidivism rate. Regardless of how much money these programs save us in the short term, they cost a tremendous amount more in the long term. It is very heartening to see an end to this practice.

Springville, UT

Evensen is completely right about this form of debtor prisons. What a ludicrous policy.

Woodland Hills, UT

I disagree! Inmates should pay. Their crimes need some sort of restitution. We have enough free loaders in our society already.



Inmates do "pay". That is the point of their sentence. This is just an addition to this that enables the county to make a profit off of anything that is deemed criminal behavior. In many areas this has led to legislators enacting new laws and tougher sentences on existing laws solely for the purpose of generating revenue. So instead of getting a fine for that bottle rocket you let off during your Fourth of July celebrations, you spend three months in jail and exit with a $10,000 bill. Now if you are a nice, law-abiding citizen you get to start finding creative ways to pay that bill since you probably lost your job already. If you are not a law-abiding citizen, you come up with even more creative ways to pay that bill.

Murray, UT

A wonderful perspective on the criminal justice system and it's flaws. Kudos to Jay Evensen and DN. @U-tar restitution can only be levied by a judge, wardens do not have that right.

Rawlins, WY

Having worked in the criminal justice system and seen varying ways of dealing with inmates it appalls me to think that society should foot the bill totally for criminals, just because they get caught. In one state, they are forced to work or be in a class getting an education for which the state pays them. From this pay their fines, restitution and child support are paid. So essentially the state is paying for everything out of the tax dollars used to pay these individuals. Most of their families are already on some sort of public assistance, which is also draining the tax coffers. So the old adage crime does not pay is total malarkey, in some places it really does pay, albeit that the pay is not extremely high like wages out of prison, but it does pay. The constitution (Amendment 13) prohibits slave labor “except as a means of punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

Rawlins, WY

So why not follow the 13th amendment and use their labor for which they are paid and the proceeds used to pay their debts, where the money does not come from the tax dollars of hard working citizen that don’t break the law, unless they perform labor for a government entity then tax dollars could be used. For the most part in most states and counties, the justice system has become a black hole for public funds, from which there is no return. If there is a return it is minimal and more than 50% of inmates ever return to society to become productive citizens, check the recidivism rates for jails and prisons.


They were charging prisoners who had not been sentenced! They have not been convicted of a crime; they are innocent until proven guilty. Just like everyone else. They are in jail because they can't afford bail; so we fine them more. Can't get more unconstitutional.

Salt Lake City, UT

I think it is entirely appropriate to ask those who commit crime to help pay the costs created by their crimes, and that includes the costs of incarceration. I am surprised that a judge feels he has the authority to decree that "restitution" of this nature is illegal. The legislature has specifically passed a law making the practice legal. But I guess we live in a time when judges pretty much do as they please. Government of the judges, by the judges, and for the judges.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

@GZE, happened to my brother in American Fork, a paperwork mess up and he was in jail over a holiday weekend when he should not have been, and then they had the nerve to send him a bill for his being incarcerated wrongly.

Bountiful, UT

Its fair to charge the accused rent .. if they are paid for their time, loss of income and emotional anguish should they be found not guilty.

Anti Bush-Obama
Chihuahua, 00

What are they going to do to the inmates if the refuse to pay rent? Put them on the street?

Far East USA, SC

If an inmate refuses to pay the rent because he feels the law is unjust, he should call his militia buddies and have an armed standoff with "the government".

Would he then be called a patriot?

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