BOSTON - A practice that has been dormant in the Bristol County House of Correction for over a decade could return under a bill under review by the legislature's Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

The bill, an Act Authorizing Sheriffs to Impose Fees, would allow correctional facilities in the state to charge inmates a daily fee for as long as they're imprisoned to offset incarceration costs.

Sheriff Thomas Hodgson says he ran a similar program from 2002 to 2004, charging inmates $5 a day, resulting in $750,000in savings. Hodgson tells WBSM News the fee is extremely reasonable when compared to other correctional facilities. "One correctional facility charges $142 a day. We're not even talking about that. We're talking about a $5 per day fee that gives them a chance to prepare for well as offset the rising costs of prisons to the taxpayers," said Hodgson.

The initial program was officially stricken down in a 2010 ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court, which stated such incarceration fee programs must first have legislative approval before being implemented.

Hodgson says under the new bill, inmates can dodge the fees if they simply stay out of trouble.

"We're just saying 'Hey listen, we don't want you to go out and use the fact that you owe us money as a reason to not get on a good track in life.' We're saying 'Just go out there. Get into two years of good behavior. Don't come back into our prison and we'll write off the bill.'"

Hodgson is testifying this afternoon in favor of the bill.

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