Housing federal detainees instead of state inmates makes sense, Bossier sheriff says
BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Bossier Parish prisons now house 102 federal detainees.
And another busload was expected to arrive Wednesday.
"Hold for ICE" and "Fugitive for ICE" are phrases in the narratives on more and more booking records at the jails at Plain Dealing.
Taking in the Level 1 detainees makes sense, in part, because Louisiana has proposed cutting the amount it pays parish lockups to house state inmates, Sheriff Julian Whittington said.
"We're just a small part of President Trump's initiative to stem the flow of illegal immigrants coming into the country."
The federal detainees now in Bossier hail from Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Sri Lanka.
There have been "some minor hiccups, as one would expect, the language barrier being primarily the main one."
But the detainees, primarily people who are in the country illegally and who might face misdemeanor charges, have been "super cooperative" and keep their dormitories immaculate.
"It's a sad situation, if you want to know the truth," Whittington said. "These people risking their lives to get here and, unfortunately, we have got people that live here, (were) born here, American citizens that don't appreciate what they have."
The sheriff has even stronger words for those who hold the purse strings in Baton Rouge.
Louisiana pays parishes a per diem of $24.39 per inmate.
And if the state follows through with cutting that rate to about $19, Whittington estimated, it would cost his operations about $1.8 million a year.
"I, for one, will return the DOC prisoners," the sheriff vowed. "The parish of Bossier is not going to pay for state prisoners.
"The state needs to get their act together and take care of their business."
On the other hand, the federal government is paying parish lockups $62 a day per inmate.
That's more than 2.5 times the state rate.
That, Whittington said, was a factor in his decision to accept the federal detainees.
Here's how the math breaks down:
To make way for the detainees, Bossier is shipping about 180 state offenders off to lockups in Natchitoches, Webster, West Baton Rouge, Tensas and St. Charles parishes.
At the current state rate, that number of state inmates is worth $4,390.20 a day in revenue.
At the federal rate of $62 a day:
- 102 Level 1 detainees are worth $6,324 a day in revenue, and,
- 240 detainees, the amount the sheriff expects to eventually take in, would be worth $14,880 a day to Bossier.
Federal standards show Level 1 detainees may not include:
- anyone with an arrest or conviction that included an act of physical violence;
- anyone with a history of assaultive behavior; and,
- anyone with a felony conviction for an offense that is listed under the “High” or “Highest” section of the severity of offense guideline.
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