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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    CA - Merced County seeks jail funds for housing undocumented inmates

    By Ramona Giwargis
    04/07/2015 7:06 PM

    The Merced County supervisors on Tuesday gave approval for the Sheriff’s Department to apply for a federal grant that reimburses some costs of housing undocumented criminals in county jails.

    The 2015 State Criminal Alien Assistance Program Grant allows the county to recoup only a small portion of the jail’s costs, but county administrators say every bit of funding helps.

    “It’s a way for us to try to get some reimbursement for housing them under the federal requirements,” County Executive Officer Jim Brown said Tuesday. “We need to find every opportunity we can to bring in additional resources toward running and operating the jails.”

    It’s unknown how much money the county will receive, but federal funding through the program has decreased dramatically. The county received $162,087 from the grant in 2002 to house undocumented criminals. It got $44,341 last year.

    Richard St. Marie, the director of administrative services for the Sheriff’s Department, said each inmate costs the county $131.71 per day to house at one of its two facilities.

    While there is no difference between incarceration costs for undocumented criminals vs. those who are citizens, St. Marie said the grant is geared toward covering the cost associated with housing undocumented individuals.

    The two county jails had 298 undocumented inmates in 2014, St. Marie said.

    “We’re spending significantly more than what we’re receiving in reimbursement through this program,” St. Marie said. “It’s essentially pennies on the dollar for what we’re spending, but every penny helps.”

    According to the U.S. Department of Justice, which administers the program, the grant funding can be used toward salaries for correctional officers, training for offenders, construction of corrections facilities and several other correctional expenses.

    St. Marie said Merced County will use the money to offset staggering overtime costs of its correctional officers. He estimated overtime is costing the county $60,000 to $65,000 biweekly. In 2014, the correctional officers accrued $1.3 million in overtime costs, according to St. Marie.

    “Overtime costs are huge,” he said. “It’s because we don’t have the staffing. We’re understaffed in order to operate the facilities.”

    The Sheriff’s Department has 72 correctional officers to cover both jails, the John Latorraca Correctional Facility on Sandy Mush Road and the main jail in downtown Merced. The department used to have 85 correctional officers, officials said. The estimated daily population is 650 inmates at both jails.

    Brown told the Merced Sun-Star the county doesn’t have the resources to add more correctional officer positions. While the jail population remains unchanged, he acknowledged that reimbursement amounts have dwindled.

    “We’ve actually seen over the last few years, the opportunity for these resources has been reduced from the federal government,” Brown said.

    To be reimbursed through the federal grant program, undocumented inmates must be housed at the county’s jails for more than four days. St. Marie said the costs of housing inmates for less than four days is fully absorbed by the county.

    St. Marie said the county will find out in October how much it will receive in funding for housing undocumented inmates. The county has participated in the grant program for the last six years, he said.
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie
    A bus to a Federal facility or the border is much cheaper. Or, they could build an Arpaio inspired facility in the border with a gate that opens in both directions.

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