Are counties required to keep felons sentenced to more than a year?

We’ve been told that the county is required to keep state sentenced inmates until the Department of Corrections takes them.  However, after reading state law, I wonder if that is incorrect for felons who have been sentenced to more than a year.  See 41-8-106 (a) and (g) (1) below.

According to the inmate numbers provided by Jail Administrator Captain John Adams, the Blount County Adult Detention Facility averaged 174 TDOC (state) sentenced felons with a year or more remaining on their sentence.  If you couple that with the federal inmates, which are discretionary, the jail would not be overcrowded, according to recent inmate totals.

On March 31st, The Daily Times reported that the total number of inmates in the local jail on March 30th was 517 including 76 federal inmates and 142 Tennessee Department of Corrections inmates sentenced and awaiting transfer to a state facility.  If the federal and state inmates were removed from the jail, the inmate total would have been 299, which is well below the certified capacity of 350 beds and below the 90% rate that some consider the optimal standard of 315 beds filled.

Are we required to keep these state felons with a sentence of more than a year?  Read below and see what you think.

From a May 27th email:

“Commissioner Monroe,  In the last year (May 28,2015 to May 27, 2016) our State sentenced inmates break down in the following way:

TDOC – Convicted felons awaiting space in the prison system with at least 1 year left to serve.

Average Daily Count – 174        Highest Daily Count – 193         Lowest Daily Count – 122

TDOC (Local) – Convicted inmates with less than 1 year to serve. May be felon or misdemeanor. These inmates serve their time here.

Average Daily Count – 85          Highest Daily Count – 104         Lowest Daily Count – 40   

I hope this helps.    Capt. Adams”

—–Original Message—–
From: “Randy Vineyard” <rvineyard@blounttn.org>
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 2:19pm
To: tona@breezeair.net
Cc: “Jeff French” <jfrench@bcso.com>, “Jimbo Berrong” <jberrong@bcso.com>, “Ed Mitchell” <emitchell@blounttn.org>
Subject: RE: 46915 CONTRACTED PRISONER BOARD

Commissioner,

Blount County has no contract with the State on inmates. The State pays us $37/day/inmate as is the case with most counties.

There may be different arrangements between the State and privately managed detention facilities.

If you have further questions about this matter those may be better addressed by the BCSO.

Thanks

Randy

Randy Vineyard, IOM

Blount County Finance Director

341 Court Street

Maryville, TN 37804

865-273-5719 (office)

rvineyard@blounttn.org

The information in this email and any attachment is confidential and may be legally privileged.  If you are not the intended recipient, please destroy this message, delete any copies held on your system, and notify the sender immediately.  You should not retain, copy, or use this email for any purpose, nor disclose all or any part of its content to any other person.

From: tona@breezeair.net
Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2016 2:00 AM
To: Randy Vineyard
Subject: 46915 CONTRACTED PRISONER BOARD

Dear Finance Director Vineyard,

The line item for revenue for state inmates/prisoners is 46915.  It is identified as “contracted prisoner board”.  Does Blount County have a contract with the state for housing inmates/prisoners?  Or does the county receive a daily per diem instead?

Thanks,

Tona

41-8-106.  Housing state prisoners — Contracting — Reimbursement of costs — Debt service. 

(a) No county shall be required to house convicted felons sentenced to more than one (1) year of continuous confinement unless the county, through the authority of its county legislative body, has chosen to contract with the department of correction for the purpose of housing certain felons. The department shall promulgate rules for requirements and procedures for contracting.

(b) Counties may contract, in writing, with the state or with other counties for responsibility of correctional populations.

(c)  (1) Counties shall be reimbursed for housing convicted felons pursuant to the general appropriations act and according to rules and regulations for determining reasonable allowable costs as promulgated by the department, in consultation with the comptroller of the treasury. The department is authorized to include capital costs within the meaning of reasonable allowable costs. Capital costs may include, but are not limited to, debt service.

   (2) The commissioner is authorized, without promulgation of rules and regulations, to agree to reimburse a county for debt service on debt issued by the county in constructing correctional facilities for the purpose of housing inmates sentenced to the county under the authority of a contract entered into under subsection (a). In addition to principal, interest and redemption premiums, debt service may include other necessary items or costs reasonably related to the issuance of such county debt. Upon entering an agreement, the department is authorized to reimburse the county for one hundred percent (100%) of debt service, regardless of whether the county is actually housing inmates under a contract, and until a contract is terminated. The commissioner may not, following execution of any such agreement, amend existing rules and regulations or promulgate new rules and regulations that will impair the state’s obligation to reimburse debt service as provided in an agreement. Any obligation for the reimbursement of debt service shall be a contractual obligation of the state.

(d) It is the intent of the state that the holders of debt issued by a county for which the department has agreed to reimburse debt service pursuant to an agreement under this section may rely on, and benefit from, this section and of any obligation by the department and the state to reimburse the county for debt service contained in any agreement, and the state pledges to and agrees with any holders that the state will not amend this section, or limit or alter the obligation of the department and the state to reimburse debt service under any agreement, in any way that would impair the rights and remedies of any holders, or of the county, with respect to reimbursement. This subsection (d) shall not affect the right of the commissioner to terminate any agreement entered into under this section pursuant to the terms set forth in any agreements.

(e) The subsidies paid to counties pursuant to this chapter shall be the only compensation from the state to which counties are entitled for housing state prisoners and shall be in lieu of the fees allowed in § 8-26-106 or any other section.

(f) The department is further authorized to provide additional subsidies to counties for the purpose of community and other diversion programs for pretrial detainees, misdemeanants or convicted felons subject to available appropriations and in accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated by the department.

(g)  (1) The department shall take into its custody all convicted felons from any county that had not contracted with the state as authorized by subsection (b). The department shall not be required to take actual physical custody of any of the felons until fourteen (14) days after the department has received all certified sentencing documents from the clerk of the sentencing court.

   (2) The commissioner is authorized to compensate any county that has not contracted with the state as authorized by subsection (b) for that county’s reasonable, allowable cost of housing felons. The rate of compensation to these counties shall be determined by and is subject to the level of funding authorized in the appropriations bill; however, the commissioner shall not compensate any county that fails or refuses to promptly transfer actual physical custody of an inmate to the department after being requested by the department, in writing, to do so for each day or portion of a day that the county fails to transfer the inmate. The written notice shall include the date it intends to take custody of the inmate for transfer to the department. The notice shall be given as soon as practicable before the transfer date. By June 15, 2005, the department shall notify each sheriff of the provisions of this subdivision (g)(2) and the consequences for failing to comply with it.

(h) In the event that a county has been reimbursed pursuant to this section for housing convicted felons for a continuous period of three (3) or more fiscal years and has received the maximum amount allowed per prisoner per day as reasonable allowable costs during this period, then the county shall thereafter be presumed to be entitled to the full maximum amount allocated per prisoner per day as reimbursement of reasonable allowable costs for housing such prisoners and will not be required to provide documentation to the department regarding costs incurred beyond information necessary to determine the number of prisoner days for which the county is entitled to reimbursement.

HISTORY: Acts 1981, ch. 491, § 6; T.C.A., § 41-10-106; Acts 1984, ch. 896, § 3; 1985 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 5, §§ 46, 53; 1986, ch. 744, § 26; 1988, ch. 869, § 1; 1989, ch. 462, § 1; 1991, ch. 374, §§ 4, 5, 7; 2003, ch. 355, § 58; 2005, ch. 174, § 3; 2011, ch. 229, § 1.

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