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Extra jail space makes money for Albany county

Once again, the Albany County jail has used its extra cell space to add additional money to the county coffers.

The facility rents out empty cells to the federal government, the state and other county jails that are overcrowded, and on Wednesday, Jan. 17, Albany County Sheriff James Campbell and jail Superintendent Thomas J. Wigger announced that the Inmate Boarder Revenue received by the county in 2006 was $4.98 million.

Since the inception of the Boarder Program in 1990, Albany County has received a total of $71 million in revenue.

The administration applauds the employees at the correctional facility for their commitment and hard work in support of this program, said Wigger.

Campbell said the program puts little, if any, additional strain on the jail's resources. For instance, he said, a typical tier in the jail holds, and is staffed for, 24 inmates.

In most situations, these tiers may hold only 10 Albany County inmates, so the addition of inmates from other agencies doesn't put any extra strain on the jail.

The money that is collected through the program goes to the county's general fund budget, said Campbell.

Each agency pays to the county a different fee to hold its inmates. The U.S. Marshals Service daily cost per cell is $91.53, an amount Campbell said is decided by a detailed audit conducted by the federal government each year. In 2006, the federal government paid the county a total of $2.2 million.

The state pays a far lower rate than the federal, handing the county $40 per day, a number that Campbell said the state legislature had been asked to increase because it falls far short of where the dollar amount actually needs to be.

"It's almost at a break even point," said Campbell.

Counties that were required to board out their inmates due to a shortage of cell space paid the county a total of $1.56 million, at a rate of $100 a cell each day. The most money came from Rensselaer County, followed by Suffolk, Schenectady, Ulster and Greene counties.

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