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Incarceration fees do not measure up

Reported by: Susan Parker
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Updated: 9/06/2013 5:21 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- Sheriff Jim Johnson has a full house.

Since the jail opened in 1995, it stays that way.

That's not the only constant.

The fee to house a prisoner on a daily basis is just $25.

While that fee has remained the same, all expenses have risen.

Sheriff Johnson says the low fee is a problem.

"If you use it, you're just gonna have to pay for it. That's just it."

Sheriff Johnson says the municipalities are good to pay their fees to the county on time, but the bottom line is the problem. It simply costs way more than they are giving to house their inmates.

"The worse case scenario would be that you went back to a municipality and said we can no longer house your prisoners for $25 a day. You're either gonna have to pay this extra amount or we're not gonna house them anymore."

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton is also an attorney and someone well acquainted with budget constraints.

"In these times of budget constraints, it becomes a real issue of do we send this person to jail or not-not based upon their conduct, but the ability to pay to house them in the jail."

"Obviously costs have increased and the sheriff's revenue has not increased, so he has to absorb that somewhere in his budget and that makes it difficult for him to operate. To do it like it needs to be done, it might be a situation where that needs to double. I don't know. I haven't looked at it, but it needs to be more," Lee County Board of Supervisors President Bobby Smith said.

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