County program wasn’t raising funds anyway

Some things sound great on paper. Unfortunately, in practice, they do not work out. Even in cases when they seem entirely just. Such is the case, it seems, with Martin County’s pay-for-stay program that sought to have prisoners help fund their own stays in jail. Why, after all, should taxpayers be solely on the hook for criminal activity?

As it turns out, the county’s program doesn’t meet the requirements of state law, and a federal judge ordered the county to find a way to evaluate a person’s ability to pay if it planned to keep trying to collect money.

With this in mind, the county considered how much money it was likely to collect. It only has been bringing in about $18,000 per year through the program, as averaged since 2011, when the program went into effect. Essentially, the county has been trying to get blood from turnips, as the saying goes. And that isn’t much. Any changes in the program would reduce the number of turnips the county could squeeze.

County commissioners agreed with the recommendations of the county attorney and sheriff this week and decided to scrap the pay-for stay effort. We believe they have done the wise thing.

Unfortunately, those who work hard and live right will remain on the hook for those who do neither. The alternative is not to jail them for their offenses. Which really is no alternative.

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