State Inmates Costing Local Jails Big

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Sheriffs across Georgia are demanding that the state government pay them more for housing state inmates in their local jails.

The Lowndes County Jail is like many others in our region, packed beyond capacity.

J.D. Yeager, Lowndes County sheriff's spokesman, says, "We're spending around $53 a day to house an inmate. Keeping in mind we have to take care of all their medical, dental and everything else. It’s a requirement that we have to do, whether they're a state inmate or a county inmate."

But those state inmates are costing local counties big. Of the $53 it costs per day to house the inmate, the state of Georgia is only reimbursing local counties at a rate of $20 per day.

Joe Pritchard, Lowndes County Manager, says, "When those funds of reimbursement don't keep pace, then that puts a greater burden on us to utilize our money for state inmates rather than utilizing the money for law enforcement or improvements at the jail."

That's why sheriffs and county commissions across Georgia will be pushing the General Assembly for more financial support for housing inmates who are supposed to be serving time at a state facility.

Jail experts like J.D. Yeager are optimistic that some improvements will be made to the state's funding formula.

Yeager says, "I feel like our current board at the Sheriff's Association will do a good as job as they've ever done."

If the state doesn't make some sort of funding adjustment, housing state inmates is a burden that will continue to grow for local taxpayers.

Local county leaders are confident the problem will be addressed next month by the Georgia General Assembly.