PHOENIX. - The Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced that he will now charge a dollar a day to inmates to cover part of their food costs, while they are held in one of the detention centers in the region.
The controversial sheriff said in a statement to ABC15 news channel that this decision is due to the increase in food costs, and reduced donations which now has forced prisons to buy more food.
"Everyone else has to pay for their food, I don't know why these inmates should have it for free," said Arpaio, who also on Thursday offered to detain those prisoners for free who were being released from the "Tent City" immigration detention centers.
The Maricopa County jails system is the third largest in the country with a high number of prisoners, with approximately 8,300 prisoners, who receive two meals a day.
The first part of this proposal is that any money that inmates would have when they would enter prison will be used to cover their first meals. If this measure is implemented, Maricopa County will be the first in the country in which prisoners will have to pay for their food.
Funds will also be deducted from the personal accounts of the prisoners, where their family or friends will be able to deposit money to buy personal items.
However, Arpaio said that those prisoners who cannot afford their food will still continue receiving it, although he emphasized that "a dollar a day is not a lot of money and it's the current cost to feed an inmate."
It is expected that this change will take effect early this month, but a specific date was not mentioned.