Counties Seek Equitable Compensation for State Inmate Costs

On March 4th, 2021 MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to support SB 866 Correctional Services – Payment by State – Inmate Housing Costs with amendments. This bill creates a revised framework for the State to reimburse counties for the cost of inmates sentenced by state courts serving sentences in local detention facilities.

Senator Paul Corderman, the bill’s sponsor, offered amendments to the bill at the hearing, suggesting that a simpler approach to merely adjust the State reimbursement for locally sentenced inmates was a more direct way to address the concerns he was raising. Mr. Sanderson agreed, and indicated MACo’s support for that refined approach. He also gave some background on the 2009 budget-cutting that left local detention centers on a much-reduced budget, part of “great recession” era budget reductions.

Some of that history was also embedded in the MACo Testimony:

For many years, the state/county policy on sentenced inmates rested at a reasonable equilibrium. For relatively short-term sentences, offenders would be sentenced to local detention facilities, rather than state prisons. The State, in turn, paid a per diem reimbursement for the care associated with those inmates. This mechanism served all parties well, until the “great recession” forced budget cuts in 2009 to these reimbursements, which were then re-based and not restored. Now, local facilities receive a fixed-rate reimbursement for certain inmates,that by all accounts does not cover their actual costs.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2021 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.