Porter County Sheriff's Department

What's Happening at The Porter County Sheriff's Department


Revamp Jail Booking Fee

John Luke The Times | Porter-Starke therapist Dennis Mallonee leads a meeting in the Porter County Jail on Monday afternoon.

County officials revamp jail booking fee

By Bob Kasarda Tuesday, February 17, 2009

VALPARAISO | Several months after it was eliminated by the state, county officials have come up with a plan to reintroduce a jail booking fee that has funded a successful drug and alcohol program for inmates.
The proposal calls for again charging the $25 fee of everyone booked at the county jail, but returning the money to anyone found not guilty or whose charges are dismissed, County Attorney Gwenn Rinkenberger said.
Rinkenberger said she came up with the idea in conjunction with Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel, whose office will handle the paperwork necessary for the refund.
The state did away with the booking fee last summer on the grounds it was not fair, Porter County Commissioner Bob Harper said when the issue surfaced during a meeting in December.
The move left the county with a diminishing amount of money for the intensive outpatient treatment program provided for inmates by Porter-Starke Services.
Commissioner John Evans asked at the time if the fee could simply be returned to those found not guilty, but former County Attorney David Hollenbeck said it could not.
Harper, who works as a criminal defense attorney, estimated about 90 percent of those arrested are eventually found guilty of a crime.
Until the revamped fee can be approved, the commissioners will dedicate $30,000 to $40,000 of county income tax revenue to keep the inmate treatment program alive, Harper said.
The treatment program costs the county $120,000 a year, Porter County Sheriff David Lain said.
Rinkenberger said she disagrees with the state's ability to eliminate the former version of the fee. She believes the county was within its rights to collect a fee to cover the cost of booking anyone at the jail, despite the outcome of cases.

John Luke The Times | Therapist Dennis Mallonee, center, of Porter-Starke Services, leads a chemical dependency and addictions meeting Monday afternoon Valparaiso.

John Luke The Times | Inmates at Porter County Jail participate in one of four daily meetings for chemical dependency and addictions led by three therapists from Porter-Starke Services on Monday in Valparaiso. The programs run for 10 weeks each session.

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