Proposed state budget cut would mean significant loss of income for parish jails

Proposed state budget cut would mean significant loss of income for parish jails
(Source: KPLC)

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - The Department of Corrections supplies funds to local jails per state inmate.

The state pays local facilities $24.39 per day per state inmate, according to Ken Pastorick, communications director for the Louisiana Department of Corrections.

State inmates are inmates that have been convicted and sentenced to prison. Parish jails also hold inmates who have been arrested locally and are awaiting trial.

However, the proposed budget calls for a $5 per day cut to the per state inmate amount the state pays to local facilities. The budget cuts were proposed by Gov. John Bel Edwards and Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne due to the state budget crisis, Pastorick said.

The pay cut would drop the per day funding to $19.39.

Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft said that played heavily into his decision to close Vernon Correctional Facility, announced this week.

"All the studies that have been done show that sheriffs in Louisiana are at least $10 underpaid on our prisoner per diem," said Craft. "That's probably a very conservative number. If we were to lose another $5, which is what the budget proposes as it stands today, it's just detrimental."

Vernon had 201 state inmates as of Monday, March 5, meaning the proposed cut would result in a drop in funding of $1,005 per day or $30,000 per month.

Craft said studies show that VCF would need 350 inmates per day to be self-supporting.

"This decision was hard to make and it was a long time coming," said Craft. "We basically kicked the can down the road as long as we could. We tried every avenue we could come up with."

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