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County taxpayers footing much of the bill for housing state felons locally

Earlier this week, a Jefferson City man was sentenced to 18 years in prison for sexually assaulting a teen in July 2012. Before his conviction, Brett Courtney spent more than 2 years in the Cole County Jail awaiting his trial.

During that time, he had to be housed and fed, racking up a hefty bill.

When inmates are being held in county jails on state felony charges, it doesn’t necessarily mean the state is footing the bill for their stay as they wait for their trials, and county taxpayers are paying the price, literally.

In Cole County alone, that price added up to $1.3 million this year.

Courtney’s 761 day stay in the Cole County Jail cost $59,389.

The state pays the county 19.53 cents per day, per inmate.

That means they were reimbursed $14,870 for Courtney’s stay, a net loss of $44,519 to taxpayers.

Cole County Sheriff Greg White said this happens all the time.

“Realistically what we’re looking at is just the cost on felons that are held on state charges, and realistically if you’re a felon with us you’re on a state charge. If you’re an offender who allegedly committed a misdemeanor, which for us it’s a state charge, we get no reimbursement from that,” said White.

The cost to house an inmate in Cole County is $78 per day. The state should be paying the county $22.50 per day for felons if convicted, but the governor is sequestering about $3.00 per day, per inmate.

In Cole County, they have 110 accused felons with 7,062 days on the books. 8 inmates are charged with misdemeanors, which aren’t refunded.

Multiplying 7,062 by 78, the result is about $550,000. Subtract the state’s portion of $137,920, and taxpayers are left with $413,000. Annually that number goes to $1,370,000.

If these accused felons don’t get convicted, then the entire burden sits on the individuals in the county.

“As this sheriff and most sheriffs in the state of Missouri, it’s our opinion that a state prisoner is a state prisoner and the state has a responsibility out of general revenue to at least, in part, fund that,” said White.

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