Reference Number: 
CTAS-1383

Any county may, by a resolution adopted by a two-thirds vote of the county legislative body, establish and implement a plan authorizing the jail administrator to charge an inmate committed to the county jail a fee, not to exceed the actual cost, for items issued to the inmate upon each new admission to the county jail. T.C.A. § 41-4-142(a).

Additionally, any county may, by a resolution adopted by a two-thirds vote of its county legislative body, establish and implement a plan authorizing the jail administrator to charge an inmate committed to the jail a nominal fee set by the county legislative body at the time of adoption for the following special services when provided at the inmate's request:

  1. Participation in GED or other scholastic testing for which the administering agency charges a fee for each test administered;
  2. Escort by correctional officers to a hospital or other healthcare facility for the purpose of visiting an immediate family member who is a patient at such facility; or
  3. Escort by correctional officers for the purpose of visiting a funeral home or church upon the death of an immediate family member.

T.C.A. § 41-4-142(b).

A plan adopted pursuant to T.C.A. § 41-4-142(a) or (b) may authorize the jail administrator to deduct the amount from the inmate's jail trust account or any other account or fund established by or for the benefit of the inmate while incarcerated.  Nothing in T.C.A. § 41-4-142 shall be construed as authorizing the jail administrator to deny necessary clothing or hygiene items or to fail to provide the services specified in T.C.A. § 41-4-142(b) based on the inmate's inability to pay such fee or costs.  T.C.A. § 41-4-142(c).

“[D]ebiting an inmate's account for costs associated with his incarceration does not deprive him of a protected property interest without due process of law. More specifically, such debits are not ‘deprivations’ in the traditional sense because an inmate has been provided with a service or good in exchange for the money debited.” Browder v. Ankrom, 2005 WL 1026045 (W.D. Ky. 2005) (holding that charging of a per diem for room and board is not in violation of an inmate's federally protected constitutional rights). See also Sellers v. Worholtz, 86 Fed.Appx. 398 (10th Cir. 2004) (holding prisoner's due process rights were not violated by withdrawing funds from his prison account to pay various fees, and officials did not violate prisoner's Eighth Amendment rights by withdrawing funds from his prison account to pay various fees).