City inmate census rising at jail
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 1:00 AM
With 209 city inmates serving 824 days in the county jail during March alone, the Board of Supervisors took action Monday to notify the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of their intent to amend or modify their inter-local governmental agreement in the new fiscal year to reflect a possible increase in fees to house city prisoners.
The city currently pays the county a flat annual rate of $110,000 to house city prisoners in addition to the sheriff's bond approval service fee of $25 per city prisoner.
While supervisors consider $20 a day a benchmark cost to house and feed a prisoner each day in the jail, the actual cost incurred is about $31 or $32 a day, they said.
At the benchmark rate, the county spent $16,480 to house city prisoners alone in March.
At that monthly rate, the annual cost could reach $197,760 for FY 2014.
County Administrator Benjie Coats reminded supervisors that the county increased the city's annual fee by $10,000 for fiscal 2014.
Despite that, District 5 Supervisor Obbie Riley said the county was coming up short financially and the inter-local governmental agreement needed to be restudied "if they are going to fill the jail up and put us in the position of overcrowding."
Riley said supervisors needed to look at the price the city pays per inmate day and compare it with the actual cost incurred by the county.
County Jail Administrator Jimmy Reid said overcrowding one or two days a month was one thing but maintaining a daily census of 70 to 80 inmates was another.
An increase in the average inmate census at the county jail sparked supervisors' concerns last month about rising operational expenditures and a need for additional bed space.
While the average inmate census has climbed steadily over the past five months, the jail administrator expects it to rise even higher as city police continue to crack down on people driving with suspended licenses as well as an anticipated increase in Circuit Court cases.
The increase in inmates not only affects the jail's budget but the facility as well, Reid said.
During March, the Sheriff's office had 1,035 inmate days at the jail, the city had 824 days, the state Department of Corrections had 524 days and the Eighth District Drug Court, 93 days.
The county contracts with Neshoba County General Hospital to provide three meals a day for inmates. Breakfast usually consists of a serving of eggs; bacon, sausage or ham; grits; a biscuit and fruit juice or milk at a cost of $2.25 per inmate. The noon meal consists of a sandwich with chips or fruit and a beverage for $2. The night meal consists of meat or a serving of meat casserole, a starch, a vegetable such as peas, a leaf vegetable, a roll or biscuit and tea for $4 per inmate.
Coats said the jail was constructed about 20 years ago to house up to 70 inmates.
With the rising census, he said the expense for operating the facility has risen as well.
"We have not budgeted for operating at a prolonged census of 70-plus people," Coats said, citing a need for additional bed space.