Nevada County Will Charge Inmates For Their Meals and Medical Care

Written by Annie-Rose Strasser

When you’re in jail, you don’t have any way to get a good job with health benefits. But that irrefutable fact isn’t stopping one Nevada county jail system from making inmates pay for their own meals and medical care while they’re imprisoned.

The Elko County Commission, which oversees the jail in that Nevada county, approved a plan on Wednesday to levy a $6 daily fee on inmates for meals, a $10 fee for visits to the doctor, and a $5 fee for getting booked. People in jail for less than 24 hours and people who get jobs in the jail will be exempt, and those who are in jail but are later found innocent will be reimbursed.

The scheme is the brainchild of Sheriff Jim Pitts, who argues that the government shouldn’t have to foot the cost of jailing people.

“We’re not the Hilton,” Pitts told the Elko Daily Free Press. “These guys shouldn’t have a free ride.”

In reality, the fees will largely hit the families of those imprisoned. The money will be deducted from prisoners’ accounts that are set up to allow family and friends to give small amounts of money for items like shampoo, envelopes and candy. If an inmate doesn’t have family depositing money into his or her account, the fees put them into the negative.

“All I’m doing is taking my cut first, before they buy their candies,” Pitts said. “They need to pay for their food first before they get their dessert.”

State-level costs for imprisonment are soaring across the country thanks to a system of mass incarceration that has caused imprisoned populations to explode.

Some jails and prisons already charge inmates some form of health care payments. That has caused some to worry that hyper cost-consciousness is having serious adverse effects for the health of the imprisoned. Budgetary considerations led one prison in 2010 to deny an ambulance to a prisoner suffering seizures. He died.

While infamous Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has floated the idea of charging inmates $1 a meal, his plan has not gone through, and there are no other known jails or prisons that charge inmates to eat.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

I agree with Susan T. I think this makes some pretty good sense, providing it's implemented reasonably. If a prisoner gets paid for any work done, then while they deserve basic "3 squares" meals a day, basic healthcare, they do NOT deserve frills such as desserts, ice cream with chocolate syrup, candy, etc. If they want these things, they pay for them out of their "earnings".

Library privileges.......fine, with supervision. Flat screen TV? Nope. Those who break the law, are charged, convicted and sentenced should get either probation or do their time and not have more than those law-abiding citizens that they either harmed or worked hard legally to do little else but survive.

Daniel Proulx
Daniel Proulx4 years ago

“We’re not the Hilton,” Pitts told the Elko Daily Free Press. “These guys shouldn’t have a free ride.”

... I did'nt know i could get a free ride at the Hilton . Good to know .

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

My husband is retired from the Dept. of Corrections. They eat really well. Dr. care is good. I don't see why they can't do something to earn their keep. I actually think they should have to grow their food. Then when they come out maybe they have learned a little pride in accomplishment.

Donna F.
Donna F4 years ago


Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago

Yeah - and the meals are garbage (green baloney and other niceties) and the "medical" care...

Susan T.
Susan T4 years ago

Ruhee~~~but what you posted makes my point. people who break the law get training and such to help them in society.
while I, as a law abiding person get shit. How is that fair? how does that make a person just go out, commit a crime and get free school in jail for being a criminal?

Susan T.
Susan T4 years ago

I have to pay for everything.
so I and every other law-abiding person is paying to keep you locked up through taxes. work your way through prison instead of learning new ways to beak the law. WTF is wrong with this system? where is MY payback?

Susan T.
Susan T4 years ago

Hi Elizabeth J. are you saying the state has to provide jobs for CRIMINALS? so us law abiding people can pay for the CRIMINALS .... did I miss something here?

Susan T.
Susan T4 years ago

OK so I agree with this idea. As I read further along it made me think, like yeah. did the crime do the time.
You in prison. put your big girl panties on and suck it up.
it is life. stop whining. don't break the law.

Nicole R.
Nicole Rieder4 years ago

I thought this was actually pretty typical