State Gets ''Caught Up'' on Money Owed to County Jails

January 29, 2003
Posted at: 10:00 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Arkansas counties will receive a big paycheck that will satisfy debt for housing thousands of state inmates, but some county officials say it's only a start.

A new bill passed by the Join Budget Committee could mean that counties around the state could soon be getting money for their overcrowded jails. While this bill is good news for counties, one Region 8 sheriff wants to know how the state will fund, yet another, projected $10 million debt before the end of the year.

The bill, which still must be approved by the General Assembly, will payout $6.7 million to counties. If approved, the bill that would pay back county jails for housing inmates through December 2002.

Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann says the state owes his county $200 thousand of the pot.

"We send them a bill for housing these inmates then they pay us when, and if, they have the money," McCann said.

The county had to pay, from its own pocket, approximately $28 a day for each of the 53 inmates in the county's department of correction. McCann says craighead county has always been able to foot the bill themselves, but adds some other counties are less fortunate.

"We've always gotten (the money), but we don't know when," McCann said. "It kills the small county. It's hard on us, but it kills the small county.

"This is another quick fix. This gets them caught up through december but it doesn't solve the problem. All we want is what's owed to us in a timely manner," McCann said.