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Editorial: WV Legislative action is necessary on regional jail fees

From The Bluefield Daily Telegraph: 

For many years now, counties across southern West Virginia have been struggling to pay a burdensome monthly budgetary drain known as the regional jail bill. The fees associated with housing inmates in the Southern Regional Jail have been particularly problematic for the deep south counties.

The continued high cost of housing inmates in the regional jail system is eating away at limited local budgets. For example, in Mercer County the regional jail bill is estimated at a whopping $1.7 million a year, or about 14 percent of the county’s annual operating budget. The county is paying $48.25 a day per inmate in the regional system.

“From a fiscal standpoint, if it goes any higher on costs I don’t know that the counties can handle it,” Greg Puckett, a member of the Mercer County Commission, said of the regional jail bill. “There is no way we can take that hit.”

Unfortunately the individual counties have limited options when it comes to the regional jail bill. Instead the task of reforming the out-of-control regional jail fee falls upon state lawmakers. And the good news is that some movement is now underway in the Legislature to address this problem. …

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