Sheriffs ask Legislature for more money to house state inmates in local jails

    Louisiana sheriffs are asking the Legislature for additional money to house state inmates in local facilities, which, all told, could cost the state an additional $28 million next year, according to the state Department of Corrections.

    House Bill 551, sponsored by state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, proposes a $4 per day per inmate increase in funding, bringing the amount the state prison system pays for housing state inmates in parish facilities to $28.38 per day, up from the current $24.39 daily rate.

    Based on 2020 budget estimates, more than 15,000 state inmates will be housed in local facilities, according to the Department of Corrections, meaning that if Jackson’s measure is approved it will cost the state an additional $61,000 per day, or $22 million annually.

    The legislation would also increase the rate for the transitional work program, says DOC spokesperson Ken Pastorick, bringing the total cost to $28 million in 2020.

    East Baton Rouge Parish would receive an estimated additional $116,000 next year if the legislation is approved. Parish facilities house, on average, 80 state inmates per day, says East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Casey Rayborn Hicks.

    The Louisiana Sheriffs Association, which is pushing the legislation, maintains the current compensation rate for housing state inmates is inadequate and overdue for an increase. LSA Executive Director Mike Ranatza spoke in favor of the legislation at a recent appropriations hearing, saying the reimbursement rate has been the same since 2008.

    Louisiana also falls behind other southern states in this regard, Ranatza added. According to a study of states that reimburse sheriffs for housing inmates, Oklahoma’s rate is at $27 per day, Georgia and Arkansas are both at $30, and Kentucky pays $31 per day.

    Ranatza and Jackson could not be reached for comment by today’s deadline.  

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