Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cost of Housing Prisoners on Rise Number of Federal Inmates Up since Sept. 11

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cost of Housing Prisoners on Rise Number of Federal Inmates Up since Sept. 11

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer

A significant increase in the number of illegal immigrants rounded up by federal authorities since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 is having an impact on Clay County taxpayers and the county jail, where many federal prisoners are housed.

On June 11, the County Commission will conduct a public hearing to amend the budget of the Clay County Sheriff's Office to reflect an increase of $800,000. The funds have come from the federal government to reimburse the county for increased expenses in the housing and care of prisoners detained by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The county already had budgeted in excess of $1 million in anticipated revenue this year from the U.S. Marshal's Office as part of an annual agreement to house up to 75 prisoners. The county receives $56 daily for each inmate.

But expenses for housing, feeding, supervising and providing medical care for a growing federal inmate population soon began to eclipse the budgeted amount, said Maj. Wayne Allen, the sheriff's director of administration.

"We normally budget for 75 [federal inmates] a year, on a daily average," said Allen. "But we've had anywhere from 130 to 150 since 9-11."

In October, Allen said, the jail housed an average of 87 federal inmates, but the numbers steadily climbed to a daily average of 139 in April. And the numbers continue to go higher.

"We have 149 [federal] inmates in there today," he said.

Eventually, the county may have to tell the U.S. Marshal's Office that it can no longer accept federal prisoners and they'll have to be sent elsewhere, Allen said.

"Our total daily average in April was 421," he said. "Our maximum [capacity] is about 475."

To provide adequate care and supervision, Allen said, additional cellblocks have had to be opened and corrections officers have been working a lot of overtime hours. …

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