Moffat County Jail taking in inmates from Rio Blanco under new agreement
Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume saw it as a win-win situation.
He had a chance to help out a fellow sheriff from a neighboring county while also adding to his department’s own bottom line. A good deal like that doesn’t come along every day.
The Moffat County Jail began early this week taking in a few extra guests, as the Rio Blanco County Jail was decommissioned, sending its inmates to the Craig jail. Rio Blanco will pay Moffat County for housing their inmates, allowing them to shut down their jail in Meeker and save a substantial amount of money.
“The conversation started this summer with Sheriff (Anthony) Mazzola, concluding with the execution of an intergovernmental agreement between Moffat County and Rio Blanco county in mid-September,” Hume said.
Rio Blanco’s jail population was consistently in the single digits, making operating the large facility a money-loser for the county. Instead, Mazzola will contract with Moffat to pay much less per year to have the service taken care of for them.
“Their average daily population (in Rio Blanco County Jail), which we call ADP, over the course of the last 18 months has been five inmates,” Hume said. “The overall impact from a workload perspective (on Moffat County) is not overwhelming, and it provides an additional revenue stream for the Sheriff’s Office and the county.”
Hume said Moffat County Jail is a 105-bed facility. ADP pre-pandemic was about 65, he said. But the past 18 months it’s been closer to this week’s total of 36, a number that included the recently transferred Rio Blanco inmates.
The jail in Craig has to be staffed and serviced the same regardless of how many individuals are currently incarcerated there, Hume explained, so there’s no significant change to the jail’s costs to take in the handful of Rio Blanco transfers.
Meanwhile, Rio Blanco will be paying Moffat County to care for their inmates. The rate, which mirrors the Department of Corrections reimbursement rate — used when the Moffat County Jail houses inmates that are technically the responsibility of the federal agency — is $59.42 per inmate per day. Assuming an average of five inmates per day, that equals more than $108,000 a year coming Moffat County’s way through the program.
“The cost shall be adjusted annually as the established reimbursement rate is set each year,” Hume said, quoting from the agreement both counties signed.
Additionally, Rio Blanco County is taking charge of all transportation between Meeker and Craig that brings inmates back and forth from the jail and also comes with court appearances in another judicial district.
“Our folks aren’t transporting to and from Meeker or picking folks up from there, that’s their responsibility,” Hume said. “Of course, one thing that’s risen to the surface over the past 18 months is the utilization of technology for appearances within the criminal justice system, so a good portion of the individuals we house can conduct business, meet with council and appear in court via video at our public safety center. That helps this work too.”
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