Montana Is Asking For Another Surcharge On Those Incarcerated?

Bill would provide state funding for crime prevention group

By Michael Noyes On January 18, 2011

HELENA – Sen. Taylor Brown made his case Tuesday for a $5 surcharge on convicted criminals that would go to fund the Montana Crime Prevention Association (MCPA).
The Huntley Republican told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the fee, which would raise an estimated $278,000 per year, would make criminals help pay for the cost of crime prevention. A lobbyist for the Montana Magistrates’ Association said while her organization considered it a “worthwhile … program,” adding another fee could make it more difficult to collect penalties.
Brown said the group has been active in promoting crime prevention through education and training such as a forum on DUI held in Billings last year.
“They believe strongly that crime prevention is best handled at the local level,” Brown said of the group. “They also believe the cost for that program is best paid for by those that cause the problem.”
MCPA President Robert Putzke said the organization conducted training for more than 200 law enforcement and community leaders last year and has representatives across the state. He said some of the issues the group targets include DUIs, Identification theft, and school bullying.
One parent testified, with her daughter present, about how bullies targeted her daughter who had her head slammed into a locker and eventually refused to go to school.
“This is too much for any 13-year-old to handle,” the mother said. “Prevention efforts need to be funded.”
Mary Phippen, a lobbyist for the Montana Magistrates’ Association testified in opposition to SB 151. Phippen said surcharges must be collected and distributed before fines and that it is already sometimes difficult to collect from indigent people who have been convicted.
“The judiciary should not be charged with the responsibility for raising funds for this purpose,” Phippen said. “We hope that another funding source will be made available to fund this worthwhile program.”
Brown said the bill would not add any additional responsibility for the courts to collect funds, just another $5.
“This is what government should be about,” Brown said. “This addresses a key need in our society.”
In questions from the committee, Democratic Sen. Lynda Moss, of Billings, pointed to state organizations that deal with issues like bullying.
“My concern is that we first of all need to look at some interagency coordination,” she said.
After the hearing Moss said that while crime prevention is very important there will likely be a number of similar programs where the legislature will have to make a tough decision.
“Both sides are very compelling,” Moss said.
Republican Rowlie Hutton, of Havre, said at this point he plans to support the bill.
“The administration is in place … It’s going to send a message that we expect those who are costing our community money to start paying back.”


 Comments For This Post So Far

  1. Ruben J. Mckinney
    9:03 am on September 26th, 2011

    This is just piling on. You have cut the inmates work hours to 15 hrs. a week. They need to work so they get in the habit if working and they should be rewarded so when they get out they keep doing it. You allow the prison to charge outrageous prices for creature comforts and won’t allow donations. The MPE & DOC is trying to balance the books on the back of the least able to pay.

  2. Robert Petersen
    3:44 pm on February 20th, 2012

    Yeah, but they are CRIMINALS. they SHOULD pay. Teach em to go smoking pot or shooting a deer or drinking beer! low-life scum. Jeez Ruben, you don’t think actual property owners like say, bar owners, should pay for this DUI prevention-after all, they are the JOB CREATORS.

  3. 9:40 am on March 25th, 2012

    Not all inmates are CRIMINALS. There is an alarming rate of those that are innocent in Montana prisons. This bill is not talking about only DUI’s. This is saying ALL. It’s a shame to think that families of inmates carry quite the burden already of the exorbitant high costs that comes along with incarceration. Please do the research on the amounts before belittling others. They are making millions off of inmates and their families already in Montana. Montana is known for the prisons for profit and the corruption that goes with it.

    I am not sure who is being called the low-life scum in that last comment…but according to new bills being passed so quickly, that would be considered bullying, which is a hate crime, which then you could be charged and be labeled a criminal. Thus you would be paying the fee. Do you see how fast and how easy this gets out of hand? Where do we put a stop to it?

    I have never seen a state that has so many departments within their Department of Justice, Department of Corrections, etc.  This state keeps asking for more and more.  But when you have prisons for profit that have contracts that demand a 90% or more occupied, this is what happens.  Apparently someone has not done the research on how much money is already being funded through the Judicial System.  Millions upon millions of dollars.  The incarcerated are paying back into the state of Montana, again do the research.  Continue to read this website and you will see the countless hours of research!  Montana is in negotiations about having all of their prisons going privatized.  This is literally slavery. Local businesses will not be able to compete with prisons that pay inmates .60 cents a day, that do not have to pay workers compensation, does not have to pay insurance.  This is not going to help the local businesses. 

     They need to quit hanging everyone that sneezes in the state, there is going to be more and more laws that will land you in jail.  Like the gentleman in the above comments that used a form of bullying by saying “low-life scum.”   Montana has the one of the highest rates of incarceration per population.  That is not something to be proud of.  Actually it shows there is corruption in the state, not that the state is keeping its community safe.  Wonder why Montana utterly failed on the nationwide report cards?  

    There are other means to come up with this fund for crime prevention.  If condoms can be handed out to children in schools now and be taught sex education, I am sure there are groups that can help on bullying prevention also.  Let’s use some common sense and bring back some integrity, please!   And, hey…why not bar owners?  Why shouldn’t they help the cause of preventing DUI’s.  They keep serving drinks knowing that a person is too drunk to drive.   Just a thought to ponder….