Governor Deval Patrick said yesterday that he had come up with a way to pay for more police officers in Massachusetts: charge convicted criminals a fee.
Unveiling his most detailed account yet of his plans for next year's state budget, Patrick said he would propose a "safety fee," which every person convicted of a crime would have to pay.
The program is modeled on a similar fee the state now levies against people who violate the law, a program that generate s about $6 million annually to pay for services for witnesses and victims of crime. Those fees range from $90 for anyone over age 17 convicted of a felony to $50 for those convicted of a misdemeanor and $45 for anyone who commits a civil motor vehicle infraction, such as speeding.
This is sure to be controversial, and the article quotes "prisoners' rights" advocates as saying it is unfair because criminals are usually quite poor, but I like the idea. It helps raise revenue and is an added deterrent. I wonder if it's worth tying these "fees" to income and wealth, though. Why not charge super-rich folks millions for serious crimes like murder?