Warren Jeffs must pay extra security cost for trial

ST. GEORGE, Utah – In the Utah justice system, there is such a thing as adding insult to injury.

The St. George Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office want Warren Jeffs, the convicted prophet of North America’s largest polygamous group, to pay the extra security costs for his trial.

Jeffs, who was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list while he was a fugitive, was convicted in September on two counts of conspiracy to commit rape. His sentencing hearing is Tuesday afternoon. He faces from five years to life in prison on each count.

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They’re asking the court to assess Jeffs costs of $111,247 for the additional policing costs of the high-security trial – $56,027 for extra police and $55,220 for transporting him daily from his cell at Purgatory Correctional Facility to the St. George courthouse.

Jeffs’s lawyers filed a motion Monday opposing the “restitution” fee. Jeffs’s attorneys countered by filing a motion on Monday calling the so-called restitution fee unconstitutional and “cruel and unusual punishment.”

“Mr. Jeffs, like all criminal defendants has a right to a public trial by jury,” it says. The motion goes on to enunciate his other constitutionally guaranteed rights to have an attorney, to “confront and compel witnesses” and the right to due process.

“Inherent in these rights is the need to provide a secure facility in which a jury may safely hear the case, the public may safely attend the trial, a defendant’s attorneys may safely present a defense, the accused may safely confront witnesses, witnesses may safely testify and judges may safely oversee the proceedings,” it says.

Jeffs’s attorneys do not dispute the Utah law that can require inmates to pay the daily incarceration costs before and after sentencing including medical treatment and transportation costs “for the county correctional facility.” What they dispute is that the transportation costs claimed by the county sheriff are for “securely” transporting Jeffs.

On Tuesday, the court also released a letter addressed to Judge James Shumate from a former polygamous wife, who urged him to sentence Jeffs to the maximum penalty.

“I spent 20 years trapped in a life which I hated and had no escape,” Brenda Tibbetts of Colorado Springs, Co. wrote Shumate. “My five children have paid a high price and these men should have to face their crimes against others.”

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