JEFFERSON CITY — Housing prisoners costs counties nearly three times what they receive from the state, a sheriff told a House subcommittee on Monday.
Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish said the current cost of housing a prisoner is close to $60 per day. The Missouri Department of Corrections reimburses county jails $22.58 per inmate per day for jailing inmates who are eventually sentenced to state incarceration.
The State of Missouri has fallen behind in payments and owes county jails about $35 million. Parrish said state and county officials need to work together to solve the problem.
“And we don’t believe that the $22.58 is enough to help with that,” he said.
County jails can request reimbursements from the Missouri Department of Corrections for transporting prisoners from local jails to state prisons, transporting extradited offenders back to Missouri and housing prisoners who are eventually sentenced to state prison, according to previous Missourian reporting.
Debt accrued from holding state prisoners in local jails is the biggest category, making up 93% of the $35,010,247 debt, according to previous Missourian reporting.
Missouri statute allows for up to $37.50 for daily reimbursements, but there is not a required minimum, said Trevor Foley, director of budget and finance for the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Local representatives testified to a small subcommittee of Missouri representatives about the impact the debt has on their counties.
“I’ve had counties right around me that are actually letting officers go because they can’t afford what’s going on,” said Gary Jungermann, president of the County Commissioners Association of Missouri and presiding commissioner of Callaway County.
The subcommittee for County Prison Per Diem Reimbursement will make a recommendation to the main House Budget Committee on how to remedy this, Rep. David Evans, R-West Plains, who is the chairman of the subcommittee, said.
Gov. Mike Parson recommended $22 million in funding for county reimbursements in his fiscal year 2021 budget.
Rep. Don Mayhew, R-Crocker, said that the subcommittee hoped to make recommendations before the legislative spring break, which starts March 23. Mayhew and Rep. Wes Rogers, D-Kansas City, are conducting a review of how each state handles funding local correctional facilities. The next step in the process is a public hearing.