The cost of jailing people is going up in July. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the 16 percent jump will help maintain salary increases that detention officers received last year.
“Somebody has to pay our officers,” Arpaio said.
East Valley cities and their police agencies, which are required under the law to pay for people they jail on misdemeanors, are now in the process of combing through their budgets to find the money to cover the fees.
Most East Valley police agencies the Tribune contacted said the increases won’t cause a budget crisis or force them to revise arrest policies, but the story is different for cash-strapped Mesa.
The city has faced budget shortfalls in recent years, and voters have rejected property tax measures that officials claim would pull the city out of its financial woes.
Booking fees at Maricopa County’s Fourth Avenue Jail will increase from $163.64 to $189.23, and daily fees will increase from $62.29 to $72.33. The booking fees cover the first day of jail and processing, which includes such items as a medical exam, mug shot, fingerprinting and property storage.
Mesa budgeted $4.6 million this fiscal year for jail fees, and with the increase will have to find another $400,000 for the next year.
Police Chief George Gascón said that to cut down on jail fees, his department uses a cite-and-release policy for misdemeanors. But he’d rather just jail suspects.
Cite-and-release can cause a vicious cycle because many defendants miss their court dates and then a warrant is issued for their arrest.
“This new scenario is going to increase that,” Gascón said.
He said his agency will “obviously have to come up with the money,” but the city will have to give up something in return.