Board raises prisoner upkeep to $30/day

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Inmates being housed in the Lamar County Jail in Purvis from outside of the county or from municipalities will be paying $5 more per day, the Board of Supervisors decided earlier this week.

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel made the request for an increase in inmate costs to other entities that use the county jail during the Supervisors meeting Tuesday at the William J. “Pete” Gamble III Chancery Court Building in Purvis. Rigel told the board that Lamar County doesn’t charge as much to house other prisoners as some entities.

“We’re behind the curve in county jails in what we deal for inmates for daily rates for municipalities and people outside the county,” he said. “We run in the lower end at $25 a day. The lowest one in our area is $20 and they are going to go up. One county to the west of us just up to $35 a day. A county to the east of us is charging $40 a day, and one to the north of us is charging $38 a day.”

Rigel said the $5 increase would be beneficial.

“For $25, it costs a lot more than that to house a prisoner and I think we need to go up on our rate,” he said. “I hate to go up on that, but it’s a budgetary consideration. I would like your approval to investigate it a little bit more and get some more statistics to at least consider going up on the daily rate. I would like to see $30; it’s only $5 and I don’t think it’s going to be detrimental to any jurisdiction or municipality, but it would help with the budget.”

Rigel said the different rates from other jails would be difficult to maintain.

“You get into charging different rates with different entities,” he said. “You get into a bookkeeping problem with a lot of jurisdictions and keeping up with their rates. … With the other jurisdictions and housing prisoners, we have to make a gentlemen’s agreement with the other sheriffs where they don’t gouge us, we don’t gouge them. So it’s a fairly reasonable rate.”

Lamar County does not house any state prisoners, Rigel said, because “they were too restrictive on what we had to do to house state inmates, especially state inmate workers. They said it looked too much like a jail.”

Rigel said of about 130 inmates, 40 might come from other jurisdictions.

Board President Joe Bounds agreed that the rate should be increased. “It sounds to me like you’ve done your research.”

The board unanimously voted to increase the daily rate for housing inmates from other entities to $30.