New law could force felons to pay for investigation bills

By Chip Washington - bio | email

SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC-TV) - Convicted felons in Mississippi will now have to pay up.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has signed into law a bill that will allow courts to impose an assessment on convicted felons to cover the cost of solving their crimes.

According to Southaven Police Department Chief Tom Long, the money spent during the course of a standard investigation can be substantial.

"We'll show crime lab fees, manpower hours, and what those hours cost us," he said. "All this can be a part of the adjudication at the end of a trial according to the new law."

Long said he welcomes the chance to be reimburse, as overtime costs associated with investigating various cases, including homicides, can run up to $5000 or more in a single 24 hour period.

Long said plea agreements play a big part in many cases, and he hopes repayment could be included.

"Especially if you look at the difference as far as some type of plea agreement that this is included, and maybe it saves you from going to jail longer," he said.

DeSoto County resident Jeffrey Poulin said he likes the idea, but sees a serious flaw in the plan.

"Where are they going to get the money?" he asked. "If I can get out of jail, I'm going to ask people for the money, but if I'm convicted of something, then where would I come up with the money?"

The law goes into effect July 1, and can include costs including, but not limited to, investigators pay, service process, court reporters, expert witnesses and attorney's fees.

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