A new Missouri law allows counties to use funds paid by criminal offenders to help law enforcement. The Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune says the measure allows judges to order certain offenders to pay up to $300 per charge. The sheriff could use the money for equipment and supplies; prosecutors could use it to alleviate costs associated with investigations and trials.
Mick Covington of the Missouri Sheriff's Association, said, “This is something directly related to the offender. It's sort of a 'pay as you go.' ” Payment could be a condition of probation or a suspended sentence. Misdemeanor offenders offenses are excluded from the fund. An earlier version of the law would have allowed each county to create its own “county crime reduction fund.” But Gov. Bob Holden considered that possibly unconstitutional because court fines must go to schools. To avoid the interpretation that the court-ordered payment is a fine, it is now described as “restitution” – a label some consider a misnomer. Court costs assessed to offenders have nearly tripled in the last 10 to 15 years, said one official.