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Victoria County to charge more for federal prisoners

By DAVID TEWES
Nov. 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Updated Nov. 2, 2010 at 6:02 a.m.


Facts about the JailThe Victoria County jail has about 520 beds to house male and female prisoners.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said the jail is at capacity.

When the beds are full, priority is given to local and state prisoners over federal prisoners.

A renegotiated contracted with the federal government should help ease the strain on the Victoria County Sheriff's Office budget, officials said Monday.

The commissioners court approved the contract to house federal prisoners in the county jail and the new document increases the charge to the federal government.

"We've been losing money," Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said. "But now, we're just stopping the bleeding."

The sheriff had been charging the federal government $45.39 per prisoner, per day. That fee is going to $55 per day, or about $10 a day more than it currently costs to house the prisoners.

"Anything we can do to increase revenue, during these times especially, is of great benefit to Victoria County," County Judge Don Pozzi said.

The sheriff's office had averaged between 30 and 40 federal prisoners per day early this year to leave room for local and state prisoners, he said. But the number of federal prisoners has increased to between 80 and 90 per day, recently.

O'Connor got more federal prisoners into the jail by making changes in how non-violent prisoners, such as deadbeat dads are being handled, he said.

Instead of keeping them behind bars, he and his staff have worked with the state attorney general's office to get the dads into work programs. That keeps them out of jail and allows them to make money to pay their child support, O'Connor said.

"It's not doing much good if we have to make them stay in jail and they get credit," he said. "It doesn't get money to the families in need."

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