By R.W. Boggs - Carter County Jailer
Feb. 16, 2011 —
During the fiscal court meeting on Tuesday there was much talk concerning county, state, and federal inmates at the Carter County Detention Center. I do understand on the surface that people may have concerns over federal inmates. People are typically afraid or cautious of what they do not understand. So I would like to clarify what we do with our inmate population to best serve our prisoners as well as the county taxpayers.
The detention center typically keeps anywhere between 85-100 county inmates for a variety of charges. Our first obligation is to Carter County and our own prisoners. The remaining beds are used to help offset the counties cost of operating the jail budget. We receive Elliott and Morgan County prisoners at a daily rate of $30. We take State inmates for $32 daily. We are the only facility in the region that is allowed to house federal inmates, for which we receive $42 a day. It is a blessing to our county to have this federal contract. Unlike some counties that put in a million or more dollars out of general funds, Carter County saves hundreds of thousands of dollars by housing these “revenue” prisoners. With that being said, we can save our general and road funds much more by housing more federal inmates than state or other counties at the lower rate.
There are other counties interested in housing for Elliott, and Morgan already uses Big Sandy more than they do Carter County. If we used our average 30 beds currently used for Elliott County prisoners, and replaced those beds with federal prisoners the county would receive nearly $140,000-150,000 additional revenue to offset our county expense. Another jail in the region that does not have a federal contract would benefit from housing Elliott County’s inmates. So the question that keeps coming up is, “Are the federal inmates more dangerous or problematic than county or state?” The answer is absolutely not.
Most federal inmates are considered “white collar” crimes such as mail fraud, forgery, or money laundering. Our county inmates are largely drug related and child support. State inmates have most of the violent offenses such as burglary, assault, and murder. Our federal inmates cause very little trouble inside the facility because they have much more over their head and one phone call from the detention center can add six months to a year to their sentence.
As you can see, it only makes sense to use more of our “revenue” beds to house federal inmates at a higher rate to best offset the county taxpayers “cost” of running the jail. Jails are a necessity, and are mandated by the Kentucky Constitution.
If we did not have a jail, the cost to taxpayers would be significantly higher to place them outside of Carter County since we do bring in revenue. Also, we can keep our family close as they await court or serve time.
Having the federal contract is a blessing, and losing it would be devastating to our budget. I suggest we use this blessing to the fullest in order to save Carter County as much money as we can.