In an effort to protect counties from unnecessary costs related to crime, Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) announced that he has successfully sponsored legislation to require those on probation to reimburse the county for fees directly associated with their probation. The legislation, which has passed the Senate and been delivered to the Assembly for further action, would outline the amount that those on probation would be expected to pay for costs associated to their case.
"Taxpayers should be protected from having to cover these costs and this legislation will bridge this gap. By placing the burden for these costs on the individual directly responsible, we free the taxpayer from footing the bill and that is only fair," stated Senator Flanagan.
To cover the overall cost associated with probationers, the legislation will allow counties to place an administrative fee of up to $30 per month on each person on probation. This would go towards the paperwork and other necessary costs of probation and save taxpayers from covering this cost.
In addition, the legislation looks to recover funding that is used for specific probation requirements such as drug testing and electronic monitoring.
For a person on probation who, as part of their probation or conditional release, is required to undergo regular drug testing, Senator Flanagan’s legislation will enable counties to require a payment of up to $8 per day to cover the cost of these drug tests. This payment of fees would be capped at $600 per year.
For those who are required to be monitored electronically, the fee would be up to $8 per day with a cap of $900 per year.
This legislation will also protect those who are unable to pay from facing an unnecessary hardship that will adversely affect either them or their family. As part of the act, the probation department shall waive any or all of the applicable fees if paying these fees would create an unreasonable hardship on the probationer or any family members. This decision shall be based on regulations set forth by the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives.
The money collected under this fee arrangement would be used for probation services provided by the local entity. In the event that a person on probation were to avoid paying the fees, the legislation allows the local probation department, the county or city to seek to enforce payment in any manner permitted by law.
Based on recent estimates, Suffolk County were granted the authority in Senator Flanagan’s legislation to collect these fees, the annual savings to Suffolk County taxpayers would be in excess of $580,000.
"The underlying principal of law is that if you commit a crime, you should be held responsible for your actions. This legislation, if approved by the Assembly and the Governor, will place the burden for these costs where it should be and will protect the taxpayers from an unnecessary expense," concluded Senator Flanagan.
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