The Cost of Crime

Published 10:46 am Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lawrence County is shelling out big bucks to pay for the people accused of doing the crime and waiting to see if they’ll do the time.

The Scioto County Sheriff’s Office has sent Lawrence County a $31,669 bill for the housing of overflow inmates at its facility during March.

Lawrence County has a contract with Scioto County to house its inmates when there are simply too many at the Lawrence County Jail.

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Lawrence County Commissioner Jason Stephens said the county usually gets monthly bills from Scioto County for roughly $20,000. February’s bill totaled $26,379.80

Then came March.

Stephens said he thinks the $31,669 is probably the largest the county has gotten.

“And that wasn’t even a busy month,” Stephens said. “That’s where our money is going. It’s going to take care of crooks. And it’s not even our fault. If we were doing something stupid that would be one thing.”

Lawrence County has a standing 10 beds but can ask to house more prisoners there if needed. Lawrence County is charged $48 per day for each inmate. In March, 34 inmates were sent there for varying lengths of time.

The county was charged not only for the three-hots-and-a-cot each inmate got but also for the medical care and prescription medication dispensed.

People who complain of ailments while incarcerated get to see a doctor or nurse and, if necessary, medication for their complaint.

Lawrence County budgeted $300,000 this year for the housing of overflow inmates. Divided by 12, that should be $25,000 per month.

Crime tends to spike in warmer weather months, which could mean even bigger bills this summer.

The large jail population is in spite of monitored home confinement that is commonly and frequently allowed by Lawrence County’s four judges these days.