Missouri House, Senate negotiators OK boost in jail payments

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Counties could get a little more money next year for housing state prisoners.

State lawmakers voted to cut the inmate reimbursement rate to counties in 2002 when faced with a budget crunch.

The increase approved Wednesday by House and Senate budget negotiators still wouldn't return the state funding to the 2002 level, but it would come close.

Counties would get $22 a day per prisoner beginning in July. That's 50 cents less than the level from seven years ago.

"It was up to $22.50 prior to knocking them down," said Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan.

Currently, counties are getting $21.25 per inmate daily, Jordan said.

Jordan said Gov. Matt Blunt has gradually tried to increase the per diem for state inmates since the previous governor lowered it.

State law mandates it could be raised as high as $37.50, but Jordan said he has no such "delusions of grandeur" that it would go that high anytime soon.

"Every little bit helps," he said.

Cape Girardeau County could make about $20,000 in reimbursements to cover inmate housing costs this year, factoring in the change, Jordan said.

Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said the increase is good news but that it still won't provide full reimbursement for the average cost per inmate for daily housing.

Staff writer Bridget DiCosmo contributed to this report.

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