Shutdown affecting local jails as well

January 09, 2019 08:04 PM

Citizens are paying for the federal shutdown in more ways than some might think. For example, taxpayers in local counties are also fronting the bill for a number of federal inmates inside local jails.

Most local county jails, after all, hold inmates accused of federal crimes- and make some money doing it. With the federal government shut down, however, there is no one around to cut the checks.

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On any given day, Monroe County Jail Superintendent Matt Vanduzee holds dozens of federal inmates in his jail. The feds contract with the county to house the prisoners, and the US Marshals transport them to and from court proceedings.

“Most of the people we had are going to Rochester federal court, some from Buffalo as well,” he says, “We just hold them as if they’re any other inmate here.”

Counties do make money doing it, though. Monroe County, for example, makes $122 per day, per inmate. With the government shut down, those checks aren’t coming in.

“$50 is about the average, I think,” he says, “I did the numbers and I think the average stay is about 26 days. Some will be here longer, some it’ll be less… it kinda depends.” 

That amounts to about $6,000 a day just in Monroe County. Seneca County has a dozen federal inmates, while the Livingston County Sheriff says he normally houses between 30 and 50. While the federal government is closed, county taxpayers are footing the bill.

“If we had a federal inmate that went in to the hospital,” says Vanduzee, “Currently what we’ll do is call the Marshals, they’ll take them back into custody then watch them and pay for the medical expenses. But if he was in our custody, we would have to pay for that.” 

Local jails are confident that eventually they will get full reimbursements from the federal government when it open back up, but they have yet to be paid for the month of December or any of January.


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