With budgets tight, counties around the state are in the strange position of fighting over other counties’ inmates.
Clark County has a 126-bed jail facility. On any given day, there might be 50 to 80 prisoners there. Some of them from other counties without enough jail space of their own.
For instance, Portage County pays Clark County $40 a day to house excess inmates. But at the end of the year, Portage County will send those inmates to Lincoln County, who will only charge $32 a day. Sheriff Louis Rosandich says it’s the result of Portage County just finding a better deal.
Rosandich says the County has to operate the jail facility, regardless of how many inmates they have. At $40 a day, the department estimated they were profiting about $12 to $17 per inmate.
Now, it’s turned into an all-out bidding war. He recently heard from Trempealeau County, which currently sends excess inmates to Chippewa County, but might be looking for a better deal as well.
There’s also an issue of jail construction. A number of counties have looked into building larger facilities so they don’t have to pay another county for the service.
At around $2.5 million a year, operating the jail facility accounts for about half of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department’s budget.