Prisoners in Oregon may have to pay for damage caused by three July 4 brawls

Prisoners in Oregon will likely divvy up the tab for a spate of violence last month that cost the state nearly $25,000.

At Oregon’s only maximum security prison, 115 prisoners were involved in three brawls over the Fourth of July weekend. Prison officials estimated $10,913.58 in kitchen damages, $8,071.46 for new mattresses and linens and $4,752.96 for new inmate uniforms and shoes, according to a report by the Oregonian. The inmates will likely also be charged for the 73 canisters of pepper spray used by prison staff to subdue the fights. The pepper spray cost a total of $816.

The 115 inmates were locked up in disciplinary cells after the fights, which are still under investigation by police.

Under Oregon law, prison officials are allowed to take away all but $30 of an inmate’s trust account. Inmates can be charged for “damages or destruction caused by willful misconduct,” according to state regulations.

Spending on prisons – which cost $1.3 billion out of the state’s $13.6 billion general budget — has been a rising concern in Oregon. The state pays about $84.81 for each prisoner, which includes food, security, health care and social services, according to the Partnership for Safety and Justice. That figure has grown 65 percent over the last two decades.

In a prison in northern Nevada, inmates are also expected to help pay for their food and health care – the first prison in the nation to charge inmates for the services. Inmates there pay $6 a day for meals and $10 for doctor visits, which prison officials said will save taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

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Niraj Chokshi · August 6, 2014

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