Taxpayers voice concern about regional jail costs

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - In our state, it costs $48.25 to house each inmate per day in regional jails. Taxpayers say they have some trouble thinking their dollars pay for that.

"It boggles my mind sometimes to think about that kind of stuff," said one man, who preferred to remain anonymous. "It's a heck of a drain on the taxpayer. That's all there is to it."

It's a sentiment expressed by fellow taxpayers.

"I think it's outrageous," Robert Bockmier, a Shinnston resident, said. "They should make them go out and actually do some work."

County officials and local lawmakers came together Tuesday to discuss upcoming priorities they want to tackle. On top of the list at the Region 7 meeting was the topic of regional jail costs.

"Counties are looking at alternative sentencing, community corrections programs, day report centers, home confinement," Willie Parker, Harrison County administrator, said. "Anything that can lessen the regional jail costs."

Parker added that this year, the county is projected to spend $2.15 million in regional jail costs. That is $150,000 over the county's preferred budget in that area.

But regional jail costs are just one piece of the pie. There are other functions to pay for when combating a rising drug crisis. Those include law enforcement and treatment and substance abuse programs.

"It's easily costing everybody in Harrison County a few hundred bucks a year," Parker said.

And while that number might frustrate taxpayers, some say it's a burden they don't see disappearing.

"I don't know where else they would be able to get the funding from," Frank Crislip, a small business owner, acknowledged.

5 News wanted to find out what the $48.25 for each inmate a day were spent on, but multiple calls to the Regional Jail Authority were not returned.

You can see more of 5 News' conversation with Willie Parker in the video above. He touches on what county commissioners discussed in Tuesday's meeting with local lawmakers.