The Price of Paying for One’s Own Incarceration

prisonBeyond the debtors’ prisons now springing up in the United States of America, many cities are making those arrested and jailed pay for his/her own daily incarceration.  In an article published in National Law Journal by Joshua Michtom the concept of paying for one’s own incarceration is addressed [1]

His lengthy and well-referenced article brings to light the old saying of ‘three hots and a cot’ for any person who served in the U.S. Armed Forces or held prisoner.  Sadly, this saying is no longer valid.  Traditionally, what this statement has implied is that if a person were to go to join the U.S. Military or end up in jail, at bare minimum, that person would be able to obtain three hot meals and a bed to sleep in.  Throw in heat, free medical care, showers, and clothes, it might sound pretty good to a homeless person as well.  Correct? 

According to Michtom’s article the average ‘Pay-to-Stay’ [1] cost charged to each person incarcerated averages $0.00 to $60.00 [1] per day (a per diem fee often assigned at sentencing) [1], with the costs being deducted from the cheap pay prisoners earn for labor while incarcerated.

This potential bill raises questions for the prisoner once released.

First, does a prisoner get to deduct the costs of his/her incarceration from federal income taxes owed?  This is valid as a question due to the costs being deducted as a ‘benefit ‘ [1] to the prisoner and considered ‘income earned from work’ [1].

Second, is this another screw job to the person trying to rehabilitate his/her life once convicted?

Third, is this really reform-oriented or indentured servitude designed to keep the parolee down for good once he/she is released back into society to try to rebuild his/her life?

Fourth, what about the costs the prisoner might owe to victims due to financial restitution, not to mention fines owed to the state?

The article goes on to defend the U.S. Constitutional rights of prisoners who have been incarcerated against his/her will and whether or not the confiscation of prisoner monies constitute additional punishment or the prisoner having to pay his/her own housing and medical costs outside of the walls of a prison [1].  The argument made by the state further claims to justify the need to charge prisoners due to the prisoner(s) having willfully chosen to break the law and become dependents of the state and costing the state near bankruptcy for the prisoners’ care [1].  The state’s claims to the prisoner’s monies are claimed as valid due to the prisoner losing his/her Constitutional rights once incarcerated [1]…in other words, those rights are vacated to the prisoner until his/her parole and the court’s restitution of those rights through a hearing…most likely when all fines and restitution have been paid as well.

The answers to all of these questions create a further inquiry.

Fifth, if a person is found innocent, are those costs forgiven?

Sixth, if the prisoner exits the walls of his/her prison to bankruptcy and has no means to pay bills (due to all monies earned within prison walls having been confiscated) and makes a fresh start at living in society as a free man or woman, then what options does he/she have for survival?  The only option becomes enrolling back into the prison system as an ‘indentured’ servant or slave.

Seventh, what happens to the ex-con’s incentive/ desire to stay out of prison?   It is, after all, a question of survival for the prisoner, and a justified means for the institution of prisons and guards and the ‘legal’ system to stay afloat financially and survive as well.   At least the state would be able to publicly claim that keeping the prisoner in prison for the rest of his/her life protects society from the recidivism (re-offending and re-conviction) of prisoners towards those they might prey upon in society.

Eighth, are Americans being taxed like prisoners into eventually thanking our jailers for ‘three hots and a cot’?

The similarities of the lives of prisoners held within American jails parallels what the rest of Americans face on a daily basis when it comes to survival and seeking judicial remedy for confiscation of property by the jailers (state).  The request for help bleeds past physical and spiritual borders.

The confiscation of our properties has been through excessive taxation and inflation.  This has frustrated Americans, as it did in the time of the First American Revolution.  Short of every piece of our prison toilet paper being taxed, Americans’ frustration with a corrupt and out-of-control set of jailers has exploded with the latest schemes at confiscating (nationalizing) the monies in our 401K savings accounts and at gun-registration and outright confiscation.  Should Americans resist and not turn in their weapons, or use those weapons to keep police from physically confiscating cash or gold and silver (real monies), then they will become overnight lawbreakers subject to arrest and imprisonment by corrupt politicians, judges, and police.   The fear of police breaking down the doors of individual sovereign [2] (self-governing) borders (the doors of our homes) to unjustly confiscate weapons and monies and imprison the populace has far-reaching impacts on personal sovereign freedom of thought as well as action.   They have threatened to eat us out of our sustenance and invade our personal borders.  In effect, America’s borders have now become the walls of its gigantic prison for the populace.  There is no prison protection for its inmates.  There is no longer a guarantee of ‘three hots and a cot’ for the inmates.  This violates spiritual borders as well and clearly demonstrates that the prison system in the United States of America is designed to hold its tenants as life-long hostages, not as reformed free-men or free-women that have been ‘re-habilitated’.  Such action violates international law.

The latest efforts at rehabilitating the sovereign prison-populace exploded in December, 2012 when gun grabbers began the character assassination of law-abiding citizens as overnight lawbreakers.   American gun owners were left with the choice to eithers choose to not register/and/or turn in their guns to the U.S. Government.  This question of violating one’s personal sovereignty and potentially becoming a prisoner became a serious concern.  Should a person choose to make an act of open, defiant civil disobedience and not turn his/her guns in, then that person becomes subject to the current tyrannical ‘government’s’  desire to enforce its will upon that person.  This means arrest and/or fines and imprisonment against his/her will during an act of war against the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and those it protects as sovereigns.  At that point the person becomes a political prisoner, both in conscience and in body and is actually owed the protection of a political prisoner according to terms of the Geneva Convention of 1949, specifically under Collective Punishments [3]

Since the United States of America pre-agreed to being bound by the terms of the Geneva Convention of 1949, the U.S. Government is law-bound to afford prisoners additional protections from their property (monies/guns/housing/medical care) being confiscated unjustly by their captors.  This codified international law is as valid in 2013 (and beyond) as it was when codified in 1949.

In summary, beyond a ‘storming of the Bastille’ [4] event(s), it will be interesting to see if jailed sovereign American political prisoners press forward their rights individually and/or collectively and ask for assistance from other nations in seeking a ‘jail-break’ from their U.S. Government captors and re-compensation for properties stolen.  As Americans we should recall the help that France gave us when King George of England tried prior to 1776 to confiscate our guns and gun powder [5] and hold us all as his collective prisoners (slaves).  Is there ANY nation ready to come to the aid of American sovereigns?

No just compensation is forthcoming now or in the future unless American sovereigns take back what has been stolen from us…a prison riot perhaps?  After all is talked and walked, what price will each prisoner pay for ‘three hots and a cot’?

Will Patrick Henry’s famous words, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” [6] be echoed in America again?

What price ‘liberty’?    What price ‘freedom’?  What price ‘three hots and a cot’?

You must decide.

Sources Cited


© Sean T. Taeschner, M.Ed.

4 thoughts on “The Price of Paying for One’s Own Incarceration

  1. Great Article Sean! I will send it to all my contacts.
    oh, and tell your daughter to load back up her finger gun with ammo, because War is coming! hehe

    1. Will do. It is not her loaded finger that we should be worried about. We should be worried about the load of ink in her father’s wordsmith fingers that are working overtime for freedom.

  2. What change in our culture has led to this relentless nit-picking of every imaginable or invented, charge or cost? What disease infected us? What altered this Nation from being “Ride well, shoot straight, and speak the Truth” to “OY VEY, what pennies can I squeeze out of this situation?” ……… oh yeah …… THAT change.

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