Revenue from housing federal inmates will help make up for any future revenue shortfalls and in the future could help pay down the debt of the new Henry County Adult Detention Center.
Henry County Sheriff Wayne Davis said the center’s projected $1 million revenue shortfall for this year was addressed by moving “some money around. We were able to balance our budget.”
The shortfall, he said, was due to a lower inmate population than was projected when the new center was built.
The decreased number of inmates isn’t limited to Henry County, Davis said. “Inmate populations are down all over Virginia.”
Housing federal inmates will “take care of balancing the budget moving forward,” and, as the number of federal inmates grows, Davis said the additional revenues “can certainly be used to help pay down the debt on the jail.”
Davis shared the specifics of his solution at the August 22 Henry County Board of Supervisors meeting and noted that in June, the county’s Adult Detention Center was approved to house inmates for the federal government.
“We signed an intergovernmental agreement between the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Marshal’s Office from the Western District of Virginia to house 20 inmates at a $65 per day per diem,” he said.
Davis estimated that the arrangement would produce $465,000 in annual revenue. The first federal inmate from Virginia was housed in the center in July.
Reiterating the decrease in inmate population across Virginia, and noting there was not a serious need for inmate bed space in the Western District, Davis said, “So, what we’ve done is we’ve continued to work on that relationship with the Western District of Virginia and we’ve grown and fostered that relationship.”
Last Thursday, he said the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Marshal’s Office for the Western District of Virginia, and the United States Marshal’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina met at the county detention center.
“As a result of that meeting, we have finalized and signed a new intergovernmental agreement between the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Marshal’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina to house 200 federal inmates,” he said.
As early as the beginning of next week, Davis believes the Adult Detention Center will start housing those inmates. The agreement states the Adult Detention Center will start with housing 50 inmates.
The county will be paid the federal daily per diem, which is $65, Davis said, noting that amount is more than double the $30 daily rate paid by other jurisdictions.
“The $65 federal rate is a true win/win for us. If we house inmates for another local jail, the rate is $30 per day,” he said.
The arrival of federal inmates in the county will be “phased in slowly over the coming months. They won’t be bussed in at one time,” Davis said, adding the number will build up to the agreed-upon 50 inmates.
The gradual pace also will give jail staff the opportunity to adjust to the federal system, he said.
“There’s a tremendous amount of paperwork that comes with a federal inmate. So, our staff has to get accustomed to handling their paperwork and billing processes associated with these federal inmates,” he said.
“Those 50 inmates equate to $1.1 million in annual revenue. So, as we continue to move that up, the Western District has a need for a lot of bed spaces, so we hope to grow this agreement to the full 200,” he said, adding the Henry County Adult Detention Center has a rated capacity of 400 inmates. The current average daily number is 251.
The 50 additional inmates “will still only take us to about 300 inmates, which leaves us about three-fourths of the way full,” he said.
The center’s current rated capacity is 400 inmates. Davis said it can begin to double bunk some of the low and medium-risk inmates to increase the capacity to 600 inmates.
Additionally, “when the facility was constructed, it already has a footprint for an annex” that would house an additional 200 inmates, he said, and added core facilities such as laundry and kitchen were built to handle 800 inmates.
The Adult Detention Center will hold all of the inmates it receives, regardless of their offenses.
“We didn’t put anything into the agreement of level of offenses we would hold and what we wouldn’t hold,” Davis said, adding the facility is “extremely secure” and its staff can handle all offense levels.
If the arrangement works out well, Davis said housing 200 federal inmates would equate to $4.7 million in annual income at the $65 per day rate.
“I know several board members and myself had discussed this and the importance of getting it done, and I believe we got it done,” he said.
Davis said the federal intergovernmental agreement includes a transportation agreement to provide some level of transportation, but that also will be at an hourly rate and federal mileage.
On August 8, Davis said he met with the City of Martinsville Sheriff Steve Draper about also housing inmates from Martinsville.
“It was an excellent meeting, and Sheriff Draper agreed to allow us to house a number of his inmates. He still needs to maintain a certain number or percentage of inmates, so he can assure the security of his staff having a job,” he said.
The Adult Detention Center is currently housing 22 inmates from Martinsville.
Henry County Administrator Dale Wagoner said the additional revenue generated from the agreement will help alleviate the burden on taxpayers.
While Wagoner said the construction debt may not be paid off earlier, “getting this revenue secured makes it easier to make that payment and less of a burden on the taxpayers.”