Bill passes committee that would increase money DOC pays for housing state inmates

BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB) - A bill that would increase the amount of money that the Department of Corrections pays local sheriffs for housing state inmates has made it out of the Criminal Justice committee.

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House Bill 551 authored by Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Dist. 16) who represents Morehouse and Ouachita Parishes, would increase the amount of money the Department of Corrections pays for the housing of inmates in a parish jail or facility from $24.39 per day to $28.39.

The bill has gotten the support of local sheriffs in Central Louisiana, including Avoyelles Parish Sheriff Doug Anderson who said his office felt a financial hit from the Justice Reinvestment program that allowed the early release of some state inmates from the parish jail.

"It's great that it passed committee," said Sheriff Anderson. "Sheriffs all over the state were working hard to get this thing out of committee. We're going to continue to work hard to get HB 551 passed through the legislature and the Senate. It means so much to us. We have been down on inmates for a very long time now with the governor's reinvestment program. We are really excited about it because we haven't had an increase in per diem in probably 11 years."

It also has the support of Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton who has said frequently that the amount is too low and doesn't support actual costs to house, feed and care for inmates.

"Right now, it's costing us better than $33 a day to house an inmate," said Sheriff Hilton. "The only reason that I even keep a state inmate is that it creates jobs for some people and it creates a workforce and labor force for some of the public entities here in Rapides Parish like the City of Alexandria, the City of Pineville, Indian Creek, Camp Beauregard - places like that."

The bill made it out of the committee without opposition on Wednesday. The bill will now head to the House Appropriations Committee.

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