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More Cook County prisoners boost jail's income

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Mt. Vernon Register-News
by Tesa Culli

MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Justice Center is sitting at 92-percent capacity after Sheriff Roger Mulch received a call from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

“He called late last week telling us they have a need to place more detainees,” Mulch told members of the Jefferson County Board on Monday. “To have a safer jail in Cook County, they want to reduce the number of inmates and open 2,600 of their beds. They requested we take 40 to 50 detainees, so, over the weekend we received an additional 49 Cook County inmates.”

Jefferson County has been working with Cook County to house inmates since September 2007, and receives $50 per inmate per day. In addition to Cook County inmates, the Justice Center houses U.S. Marshals Service inmates and — most recently — Immigration and Customs Service detainees. The county began housing ICE detainees in April at a rate of $60.30 per day per inmate with a $25.97 per hour stationary guard service fee and $26 per house transportation fee on top of the federal mileage rate for transport.

As of Monday, the county had 147 paying beds and 76 Jefferson County inmates, Mulch reported.

“That makes us at 92 percent capacity,” Mulch said. “I hate to say it, but I hope it stays that way so we can help the county out of a shortfall.”

As of Aug. 13, Mulch reported there were 159 detainees at the facility, with 50 ICE detainees, 34 from Cook County, 13 from the U.S. Marshal and 62 Jefferson County inmates. The average population at the facility for July was 177 total, with 90 of them out-of-county detainees. On Tuesday, the Justice Center was housing 87 Cook County inmates; 47 ICE detainees; and 15 U.S. Marshals inmates.

“Out of 249 beds in the jail, we have 217 beds occupied,” Mulch said. “Out of those occupied, 147 of them are paying beds.”

So far this fiscal year, which began Dec. 1, 2008, Cook County has paid $489,150 to the county for housing inmates; the U.S. Marshals have paid $200,370; and ICE has paid $137,910 for housing inmates from April through May, and has been billed $113,337.57 for June and $109,963 which has not been received by the county yet due to the billing cycle which is at 60 days from receipt of bills.

“We should be collecting between $200,000 and $250,000 per month,” Mulch said. “A quarter of a million dollars for the last few months of the year will be doing good and end the year on a high note.”


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