Photo courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office
The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, (WCSO), with support of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, recently announced that Sheriff Jerry Clayton decided to forgive all outstanding jail debt for individuals who accrued that debt while incarcerated within the Washtenaw County Jail, according to a press release and Facebook post.
“Our decision to eliminate this debt reflects our understanding of the stress and financial burden of incarceration,” Clayton said in the press release. “We know that as people leave our jail in hope of positioning themselves to be successful upon returning home, the burden of jail debt is an added negative factor that can undermine their attempt at reintegration and feed the cycle of incarceration. We also know that incarceration can seriously compromise a person’s ability to generate income, leading to even more debt. It’s this absurd cycle, along with reincarceration, that we are focused on.”
During a recent review of the debt owed since 2013, corrections staff were able to identify 31,614 individuals impacted by a staggering total debt of $509,888.
Under the State Correctional Facility Reimbursement Act, sheriffs have the right to recover all monies that incarcerated individuals owe as a result of their incarceration, according to the Facebook post. The Sheriff’s Office said that they are committed to ensuring that everyone in their custody receives appropriate care and is treated with dignity and respect.
Every individual lodged in their facility for more than 24 hours receives a set of free items to help them meet their basic needs. Anyone needing additional supplies and services can purchase them from their commissary or as part of their larger Incarceration Services architecture, the post added. Individuals that receive these items and services without the financial ability to pay, incur a debt. Historically, the WCSO
has not aggressively pursued non-payment of this debt through creditors or other means, but the debt held over someone can add to the stress associated with their day-to-day living.
Read the full press release by clicking here.