COUNTY JAIL BILL 14% INCREASE PUT ON HOLD - Unpaid Fees, No Funds, Teetering Some Counties Into Bankruptcy

UPDATE 6/25/2021 - The West Virginia Legislature convened its second special session of 2021 on Thursday, passing a number of bills, among them was Senate Bill 2023, which extends a freeze on counties’ jail bills at $48.25 per day, per inmate through July 1, 2022. The rate would have increased to more than $54 otherwise.

The possible jail bill increase drew the ire County Commissioners, particularly those who do not have funds to pay the bill, often teetering on bankruptcy. Some poor counties have bills ranging in the millions.

Calhoun has currently been able to pay off the jail bill, at times reaching over $500,000.

The legislation calls for the rate to be recalculated for July 2022.

WV SEEKING 14% INCREASE FOR COUNTY JAIL BILL - Legislature Promised No Increase, Amazingly Poor Calhoun Has Paid

By Bob Weaver

ORIGINAL STORY - A proposed hike in the daily rate counties pay to house West Virginia’ inmates in jails increasing, placing an even greater burden on county budgets.

West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority asked for a 14 percent increase, which would raise the daily fee for housing a county’s inmate from $48.25 to $54.

The counties were not notified, with the WV Legislature promising no increases.

Between 2000 and 2019, West Virginia’s jail population increased by a staggering 81 percent, from approximately 2,853 inmates to 5,172, even as the state’s population shrunk in the same period.

Much of the increase in jail population is a result of a pretrial jail population, those unable to make bond.

The Calhoun Commission has paid off their jail bill which rose to $522,000. "This deprives the county from supporting many services or even help with healthcare for our handful of employees," said Commissioner Kevin Helmick.

Calhoun, during the past 30 years, has made attempts to pay on the bill, sometimes eliminating it.

A dozen counties have been in default of payment, including Webster County, $2,712,106, Lincoln County, $1,813,000, Clay County $1,236,754, Logan County, $1,218,795 and McDowell County $1,149,556.

The US is “the world’s prison capital,” with the highest prison rates in southern states, while judicial reforms are a long time coming.