SPOKANE—A state law that allowed counties to collect as much as $100 in booking fees from jail inmates was struck down by a federal judge because it violated constitutional protections for due process.
U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle struck down Spokane County's $89.12 booking fee and the state statute that authorized the fee.
Several other counties that collect similar fees were closely watching the outcome of this case, including Pierce, Franklin, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom.
"Across the state, county jails collect millions of dollars from prisoners without a hearing and before they've been convicted," said Breean Beggs of the Center for Justice in Spokane, a nonprofit firm that represented a man who challenged the fee. "This ends that practice."
The next step will be to determine how much money was collected by Spokane County, and how to repay that money, Beggs said. He estimated the county would have to repay more than $2 million.
The fees were first authorized by the state Legislature in 1999 at $10, and the limit was raised to $100 in 2003. The money would be taken involuntarily from a person at the time of booking.
Timothy Ford, of the state attorney general's office, said his office has not yet decided whether to appeal.
The lawsuit did not challenge the fees, only whether they could be collected without a hearing, Ford said.
— The Associated Press