State renting space in already-full prisons.

One of the ways that the state screws over localities, funding-wise, is keeping convicted criminals in local jails, shirking the state duty to pay for housing convicts. Which is why it’s so galling that Virginia is selling bed space in its prisons to neighboring states. Why? Because it pays, and that helps make up for the chronic lack of funding from the General Assembly. Does anybody think that this is a good arrangement?

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

5 replies on “State renting space in already-full prisons.”

  1. I’ve noticed this, too. A couple of years ago, when my clients were sentenced to prison time they’d disappear from the jail within a week or two. Now I’ve got clients in the jail who’ve been waiting for transport for weeks or even months. Last month I had one hysterical client who kept calling and demanding that I get him shipped out. The jailers had him convinced that it was necessary to get an attorney’s motion to have him transported, even though there was a court order clearly directing that he go to prison (he’d left all his personal effects in prison and wanted to get back to them). Anyway, it turned out he was a DOC inmate who’d been “inadvertently” left in jail for over four months after the order was entered.

  2. Did I mention how ticked off the local sheriff’s departments are to have to feed and house these guys? They’ve been renting space in rural jails for the overflow. The costs have been passed from the state to the localities. No one’s happy.

  3. It’s about time this situation got some press attention. I spent a couple of years volunteering at the Charlottesville-Albemarle jail and witnessed this overcrowding on a regular basis. This business of the state paying localities $14 a day to house prisoners, when it costs them $43 a day to care for them is outrageous. Essentially, our property taxes are being used, to the tune of $29 a day, as a subsidy to the obligation of state government.

    Maybe the next investigation ought to take a look at what’s going on with the medical “dumping” of prisoners. Prisoners are not being treated for serious medical conditions while in jail and prison, allowing those problems to exacerbate. Then, they’re released and show up at hospital emergency rooms to be treated when they, clearly, have no insurance nor personal financial means to pay for that treatment. So, the cost gets passed along to the rest of us by means of higher medical and insurance costs. This very intentional (and unfair) cost shifting needs to stop. Some reasonable standard of medical care is part of the cost of running jails and prisons and ought to be accounted for as such.

  4. Localities should lease all the overflow prisoners to work in GM and Ford plants to reduce their labor costs and make them competitive again. Win win!

    (And heck, what ever happened to the good old days of chain gangs and work camps? We have roads and bridges to fix too!)

    P.S. I am not Dick Cheney.

  5. Not sure if it has any bearing here, but I have read that a growing number of prisons are ‘private’ (owned and operated by publically traded corporate entities) and the facility and or service is ‘leased’ to the particular state (or states?).

    Any VA prisons fall in that category?

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