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County tops $1 million in IDOC revenue

July 29, 2009
In the summer of 2007, the Crawford County Sheriff's Department began housing Indiana Department of Correction prisoners at the county jail. The most recent check received from the DOC for keeping the inmates brought the total income from the arrangement to more than $1 million.

"We got our first DOC prisoners in 2007," Russ Beals, office manager for the sheriff's department, said. "But we didn't get but a few at a time at first. It was sometime in August before we were at capacity. We usually try to keep the number at around 50 DOC inmates in order to have enough space for local arrests."

The Department of Correction pays $35 a day for each prisoner housed by the county. The DOC also pays for the medical and dental care for the inmates. After expenses, the county makes about $28 a day per inmate, Sheriff Tim Wilkerson said, and all the money is turned over to the county auditor and added to the county's general fund.

"The money can be used for almost anything," Auditor Peggy Bullington said. "We just count it as income for the county. But most of it is used to offset the expenses of running the jail. Although a million dollars seems like a lot of money, the annual budget of the jail is more than that. And when the DOC prisoners are housed here, it takes more people to operate the jail, so more have to be hired.

"But the income does help," she said. "If it wasn't for the DOC money coming in, we would have to pay to operate the jail out of the general fund, and the way things are right now, we may not be able to do it."

In 2008, the county spent $646,804 to operate the jail, but $571,797.30 of that came from housing DOC prisoners.

"So far this year, the jail has collected $212,000 from the DOC," Ricki Hawkins, deputy auditor, said. "But there is still more coming that the DOC hasn't paid them for yet. This year, the jail budget is around $700,000, which is a little higher because they now have a doctor and nurse practitioner on retainer and a few additional expenses related to housing DOC inmates."

"Actually, we pay the doctor on contract," Beals said. "We pay him a flat fee every month, and he takes care of as many inmates as needed. Our 2009 amended budget is $761,000. Last year, we took in around $612,000, so it only cost the county about $150,000 to run the jail. This year, we should have about the same amount coming in."

Hawkins said it was difficult to determine exactly how much the program has produced above expenses due to several factors, including the cost involved with housing local prisoners at the same facility and how things like utilities are shared by both groups of prisoners.

"And then there are jail expenses as well as sheriff department expenses," Hawkins said. "But they probably had around $100,000 left after expenses last year, and that was used to cover miscellaneous expenses by the county."

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