Reduction In Regional Jail Rates Approved

By: Todd Baucher Email
By: Todd Baucher Email

Updated: 7/19/2013 6:10 P.M.

The head of West Virginia's Regional Jail Authority says a bill passed by the legislature earlier this year is a step toward dealing not only with overcrowding in prisons, but the problems counties face with regional jail costs. Joe DeLong says it also addresses the drug problems some of those prisoners.

"In many cases, the only thing that's going to happen to them in jail, is that they're going to be trained to become a better criminal," DeLong told county officials Friday. "If you really want to get away from that, that's something that has to be solved."

Wood County's drug court has made progress in getting those individuals to treatment. But, partially on the same issue, a circuit judge says it has to be determined who doesn't need to be held long term, so the county won't have to pay to keep them in jail.

"I think you need to have someone to identify those who are in jail," says Circuit Judge Jeff Reed, "and haven't been able to post bond, and you have to categorize them."

Prosecutor Jason Wharton says progress is being made in handling cases more quickly, to move offenders on in-or, in some cases, out of-the regional system.

" We've been able to get cases pled, we've been able to get cases indicted quicker, and we've been able to get people who do not pose a risk to society released in a more timely manner."

Judge Reed cautions not all cases work out that way. but everyone agreed getting people though the legal system more efficiently, might mean they won't cost the county as much in jail fees.

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Updated 10/25/2012 7:00 P.M.

It doesn't sound like much, but it's a small reduction that will save West Virginia counties hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The West Virginia Regional Jail Board Thursday approved a 55-cent reduction in the rate charged to counties for housing a prisoner in the state's regional jails.

The rate drops from $48.80 a prisoner to $48.25.

Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy, the board's chairman, says it will save the state's 55 counties $516,000 a year.

For years, the state's counties, including Wood County, have been concerned about the escalating costs of housing prisoners in the regional jail.

Just this past Monday, Wood County officials discussed ways of reducing those costs.

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Updated: 10/22/2012 5:40 P.M.

It could save Wood County money.

But the commission was told Monday that one way of reducing transportation costs to the regional jail isn't being utilized enough.

The pre-trial release program was authorized earlier this year, to divert non-violent and non-risk offenders from the regional jail who couldn't post bond.

But its director says that, so far, no one has been admitted into the program.

"Most of the people we could have brought into the program could have come the first day," said Suzette Hall, Pre-Trial coordinator for the Mid-Ohio Valley Day Report Center. "But I cannot get to them, and I don't know what else to do. I have to have the defense attorney's permission to do an assessment."

The county is looking for ways to reduce its regional jail bill, which is increasing, even though the number of people being sent to the jail is decreasing.

Law enforcement officials said, however, that housing prisoners in Doddridge County still costs less than if they were held here.

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Updated: 10/15/2012 6:10 P.M.

Since it opened more than a decade ago...the cost to hold prisoners in the North Central Regional Jail has been steadily increasing.

Members of the Wood County Commission discussed the problem Monday with regional jail administrators in Doddridge County.

Commission President Blair Couch says the county's bill for housing prisoners has risen 26% in the past three years.

That's even taking into consideration arrests in the county have declined during that period, and the costs were going up before that.

Couch says a regional jail representative will be in Parkersburg next Monday to further discuss the problem with commissioners.

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The bills for transporting and housing prisoners in the regional jail system isn't a new problem. We first covered it more than five years ago. but the figures County Confinement Director Steve stephens gave the county commission continue to be eye-openers.

" I started in April of 2010, and, as I recall then, the regional jail bill was $142,000. For June, it was $187,000."

Nor are the awnsers easy to come by. Home confinement and the day report centers also have been successful options. But the problem isn't really that there are more prisoners, but the types of cases they're incarcerated for.

"You're having more burglaries, more drug trafficking," Magistrate Donna Jackson told the commission Thursday. "And I think when you're dealing with those, it takes more time. And you want to make sure before you ever let them out."

"The pill epidemic is crazy as far as drug abuse," Stephens added. "You've got economics, you've got the weather, especially right now."

Recently, prisoners housed in the regional jail haven't just been people awaiting grand jury indictments or trials. Some were also federal prisoners.

"The rest were sex offenders, drug dealers or manufacturers or people who had committed robbery," said Jodie Boylen, Assistant Wood County Prosecutor.

Commissioner Wayne Dunn suggested a long-term solution to the prisoner problem might come in finding solutions for homelessness, and treatment of people with mental illnesses.


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  • by Anonymous on Jul 14, 2012 at 07:40 AM
    i agree to opening local jails again! the regional jail is one hell of a trip in handcuffs.
    • reply
      by matt on Jul 15, 2012 at 01:00 PM in reply to
      Amen Brother!!!
  • by Jimmy Jackfelter on Jul 14, 2012 at 06:45 AM
    Duct tape, a few rolls of barbed wire and the Big Sandy store...nuff said.
  • by JR Location: Wood County on Jul 14, 2012 at 03:29 AM
    Annoymous: Hate to disagree with you, but I do know what I am talking about. If you want to doublecheck, then talk with the Sheriff's Office or the County Commision. As I mentioned, I read this document
  • by JR Location: Wood County on Jul 14, 2012 at 03:29 AM
    Annoymous: Hate to disagree with you, but I do know what I am talking about. If you want to doublecheck, then talk with the Sheriff's Office or the County Commision. As I mentioned, I read this document
  • by Anonymous Location: Vienna on Jul 13, 2012 at 06:55 PM
    Liberal Commissioner Dunn, please identify specificly which inmate you want released from jail to save money?
    • reply
      by matt on Jul 14, 2012 at 05:42 AM in reply to
      Did i miss something??? Who said anything about releasing any prisoner???.......awwww just you???
  • by Molly Location: Parkersburg on Jul 13, 2012 at 05:03 PM
    If you can't get welfare, go to jail. They spend 6 thousand on a mom with a kid on welfare a year, and 142 thousand on a man to keep him locked up. Which one do the taxpayers think is more important, the child who needs a future or the person who they locked up for smoking some weed?
  • by JR Location: Wood County on Jul 13, 2012 at 03:06 PM
    I said this before, and I'll continue to say it when this topic is mentioned. Back in early 2009, the WV Courts authorized the Circuit and Magistgrate Courts to sentence certain inmates to the local Holding Centers. Both Jeff Sandy and the County Commission received copies of the paperwork authorizing this. They failed to follow up on this, so now they are complaining about the bill. Susan: The inmates that are brought back and forth for court are transported by the Regional Jail Personnel, but the individuals being sent their from Magistrate Court are transported by the Holding Center. I know this for a fact, because I also read the paperwork, and reminded the Commission of this prior to the plans being drawn up for the Justice Center.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 13, 2012 at 07:01 PM in reply to JR
      Sorry, You don't know what you are talking.
    • reply
      by matt on Jul 14, 2012 at 05:40 AM in reply to JR
      Thank You JR you are exactlly correct!! Ole anonymous there must be one of the counties yes men.
  • by Susan Location: Vienna on Jul 13, 2012 at 02:10 PM
    Wood County is the only county in the State where a Defendant always sees a magistrate and has a chance to post bond before they go to the regional jail. Gas costs are minimal because most of the transporting is done by the regional jail itself and not the Sheriffs Department.
    • reply
      by matt on Jul 14, 2012 at 05:36 AM in reply to Susan
      Check your facts Susan,been thier twice both times by county paid drivers!
  • by Susan Location: Vienna on Jul 13, 2012 at 02:05 PM
    The regional jails were a terrible idea. They were forced upon the counties by the State. They were never designed to save money. I never heard anyone ever say they would save money. They were built so the State would have CONTROL and to meet Federal imposed standards to treat the prisoners well. Wood County got a bad deal when the state built the jail 50 miles away.
  • by jack Location: Parkersburg on Jul 13, 2012 at 11:25 AM
    They should just re-open the Moundsville state penitentiary. I took a field trip with my 8th grade class in May and I must say I thought it was cool.
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