The Daviess County Detention Center has increased the number of federal inmates housed there, but Daviess County Jailer Art Maglinger is re-evaluating the benefits that come from taking them in before deciding to take on more.
Maglinger has asked for an internal cost analysis to determine how much the jail is making from housing federal inmates in comparison to what it is contributing, which has turned out to be slightly more than it expects to receive for state inmates or inmates from other counties.
"We've been budgeted to house at least 50 inmates, but I know they would like us to house more," Maglinger said. "I've slowed down on taking in more because of the problem-solving involved. We want to make sure we are being responsible with how many we take in and how it affects our population here."
Of all the inmates coming into the the detention center, federal inmates bring in the most money with a per diem of $40 a day per inmate. The jail also gets reimbursements for a portion of deputy wages during transports, and for transport costs and medical care, but they also have been getting a lot more work.
As of Monday, 66 of the detention center's population of 705 were federal inmates. Fifty of those are from Tennessee, which means almost daily transports from Daviess County to the federal court in Nashville for trials, pretrial conferences or meetings with attorneys.
If the detention center took in more federal inmates, Maglinger said he would probably have to ask Daviess Fiscal Court for an additional employee.
"We really only have one deputy assigned to transports, so we've had to ask for volunteers to pull off other duties sometimes," Maglinger said. "Sometimes they wait in court all day and it usually runs into overtime, which might not be completely covered by the feds."
Stricter guidelines for federal inmates means the detention center gives them their own bunk area and keeps them separated from other populations to avoid conflict. This means more federal inmates could limit the jail's available space.
Sgt. Raygen Bennett, Class D and federal coordinator with the detention center, has already had a lot of experience dealing with the federal inmate population. Slightly more than a year and half ago, he said former Jailer David Osborne tasked him with figuring out a way to make the jail's agreement with the federal government more worthwhile.
"I ended up talking to a guy from the (U.S.) Marshals Service who was looking for beds for guys from Tennessee," Bennett said. "I told him we were considering getting rid of our federal inmates because we only had eight. He said I could triple that number in a few trips."
In a short time, Bennett said the jail went from eight to about 30. He said the adjustment wasn't too difficult, as most of the federal inmates are well-behaved since they are usually low-level offenders trying to get favorable judgments in their cases.
Now with 66 federal inmates, Bennett said the jail often has to turn away requests for transfers. The change also helped shift the profit margin for the jail. Bennett said the jail made about $12,000 in just transfer reimbursements alone in the month of June.
By just looking at numbers, the detention center's best option may be to reduce the number of state inmates it takes and replace them with federal inmates. Maglinger said some local inmates facing state cases can be incarcerated for two years or more before receiving a state classification. Unlike federal inmates, the jail doesn't receive any payments from the state until those inmates have been given their sentences.
When they are payed, the state rate of $31.34 is less than what it gets from inmates from places such as Vanderburgh County, Indiana, but Maglinger said there are benefits in taking state inmates.
"I would hate to stop taking in state people because of the results we've seen with the substance abuse program," Maglinger said. "These are also the people who work in the community."
Bennett said state inmates help keep the detention center running smoothly.
"We can't give federal inmates jobs," Bennett said. "State inmates grow our garden outside, they do our laundry and cook the food. Without state inmates, it would be hard to function."