The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office is going to get more money to hold city inmates but not quite as much as originally planned.
At the supervisors’ Aug. 31 meeting, Sheriff Eddie Hawkins said the price for feeding inmates at the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center is going up at the end of the year. He suggested a phased increase for housing Columbus inmates that would go from the current rate of $25 a day per inmate to $45 a day over three years.
While that $45 is still the target, the structure of the increase will change.
Hawkins originally suggested going up to $35 next year, up $5 per year for the two years after that. After meeting with the city last week, President Trip Hairston said they were going to flip that arrangement.
“We’ll go to $30 next year, then $35, then $45,” he said. “Everybody thought it was a good plan, and this gives the city time to prepare for the increase.”
The $25 per day figure for city inmates has been in place since the late 1990s, Hairston said.
The jail can house up to 288 inmates, but the number of city prisoners fluctuates from day to day. The city of Columbus does not have its own jail, so all the Columbus Police Department arrests go to the county facility.
“The whole reason for this is because of inflation,” Hawkins said. “That’s why the interlocal agreement had to change. Food, hygiene, clothing, prescription medication, all of that has increased.”
Once an inmate charged with a felony is bonded over to circuit court, that person becomes a county inmate regardless of the arresting agency. Once a person is convicted of a felony, he or she becomes a state inmate.
Columbus City Council approved the agreement at its Tuesday night meeting. It will be sent to the attorney general’s office for final approval.
Brian Jones is the local government reporter for Columbus and Lowndes County.
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