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County Jails May See More Funding in State Budget

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Keeping prisoners for the Missouri Department of Corrections costs county jails in time and money each day.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Keeping prisoners for the Missouri Department of Corrections costs county jails in time and money each day.

A new budget from the state legislature may restore some previously cut funding and give counties a raise for per diem expense.

About six years ago, the legislature cut the counties per diem funding. Major Kevin Spaulding says even though Greene County was housing the same number of DOC bound inmates, hundreds of thousands of dollars less was going into the county's general revenue.

"I would say we average probably about 500 inmates a day," says Spaulding.

Greene County is paid for every day a Department of Corrections bound inmate is held in the jail.

"If they are sentenced to spend time in the Department of Corrections, that's when our reimbursement begins," says Spaulding. "Currently it is $19.58 a day."

Spaulding is head of Greene County Corrections and says cuts to the funding in 2008 cost the county general revenue.

"At that time we calculated that that one dollar cost the county around $300,000 annually," says Spaulding.

A Fiscal Year 2015 Budget that's passed the house would raise the daily amount to $22.58.

"But, I would anticipate a $3 increase would amount to half a million dollars for Greene County annually," says Spaulding.
 
That money would go into the general revenue fund of a county that has been cutting services like animal control and lost a tax initiative on a recent ballot.

Because each day these inmates cost the county.

"Toothpaste, combs, hygiene items, medicines, food and over the last three years we've seen a huge increase in our food costs not only based on the number of people we are feeding but also based on inflation and the price of food going up," Spaulding says.

Spaulding says the numbers out of Jefferson City are promising for counties who have been struggling since the cuts.

"Since that time they have really had to cut the budget each year and watch all of our pennies very closely," says Spaulding.

Both the Missouri Sheriffs Association and the Missouri Association of Counties are pushing for the change. The state statute dictating the funding caps the funding at $37.50 per day. Even if the $3 increase is approved that would put the amount $15 less than the cap.

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