BOISE — Twin Falls County has been known to charge people as much as $150 per month to supervise them before they go to trial, according to reports collected by Idaho Supreme Court administrators.
That’s twice the legal maximum that counties are allowed to charge people on misdemeanor probation who have already been convicted of a crime.
Of the 30 Idaho counties that currently have some type of supervised pretrial release program in place, Twin Falls has charged the highest known rates, according to Sara Thomas, administrative director of the Idaho Courts. The state has received reports of the county charging supervision rates as high as $150 a month.
Many counties with pretrial supervision programs don’t charge defendants anything at all.
“It is very surprising to think that someone who is released pretrial, who is not on probation and who is presumed innocent, is paying more than someone who has been convicted of a crime,” Thomas said.
It’s unknown exactly why or how Twin Falls County fees have hit such high levels. The fees aren’t determined by the courts, but rather by the county itself, according to Fifth Judicial District trial court administrator Shelli Tubbs. The county clerk’s office did not immediately return a call for comment.
A bill introduced in the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee last week would cap the amount that counties are allowed to charge for pretrial supervision at $30 per month, a fraction of the amount that Twin Falls County has been known to charge.
The bill, SB 1238, would also officially authorize counties to require that defendants be supervised as a condition of their release while they await trial. Although it’s a fairly common practice, there’s technically nothing in Idaho statute authorizing counties to do so.
“I don’t know that the legislature has to actually authorize every fee or charge that a county chooses to impose,” Thomas said. “But I do think that...they have recognized that there need to be caps on those things.”