Weber County officials agree to help Salt Lake County jail with overcrowding

Sunday , August 13, 2017 - 5:00 AM

NADIA PFLAUM, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Under a new contract between Salt Lake County and the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, the Weber jail is housing Salt Lake jail inmates to help relieve the jurisdiction’s overcrowding issues. 

Chief Deputy Kevin Burton of Weber County said that this agreement is somewhat novel.

“It’s the same thing we’ve done with the state and with federal agencies for years and years and years, but it’s a kinda new concept for us to contract between county facilities,” Burton said. 

Overcrowding at Salt Lake’s jail was such that, earlier this year, the county issued custody restrictions, permitting the jail to turn away offenders of misdemeanor crimes. That policy was lifted earlier in the summer. 

Burton presented the interlocal contract to the Weber County Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting.

According to the contract, Weber’s jail will be responsible for medical, dental and medical health care for the transferred inmates. Salt Lake County is to reimburse the Weber sheriff’s office $52 dollars per inmate, per day. 

That rate “includes administration, medical, staffing, food, water, power, toilet paper — everything,” Burton said. “That’s based on the core rate established by the legislature.”

The $52 per-inmate, per-day rate falls short of the jail’s true daily costs, Burton said. Jail administrators have calculated that cost at $65.  

“We go through a pretty exhaustive inventory of items to come to that,” Burton said. “In fairness, it makes more sense to bring someone in and fill an otherwise empty bed for $52. It offsets those costs to a great degree. I have to have someone managing a post whether we have two inmates or 200.” 

Salt Lake County Jail estimates its own per-day housing cost at $106 per inmate. 

Burton said that there are no plans to increase staffing at the 12th Street facility, which has 888 beds.

As of Friday, Aug. 11, Burton said the jail’s population was at about 740 inmates, which is slightly higher than he’s used to seeing. Because the population is always in flux, any one day’s population total may not be the best representation of the average population level, Burton said.

Salt Lake inmates are not to be released by the Weber jail. According to the contract, “All Salt Lake County inmates will be transported back to Salt Lake County before being released into the community.”  

On Aug. 10, according to the booking report published by the Weber County jail, 18 inmates from Salt Lake County were transferred to Weber. All were women, and all were serving sentences of less than 365 days for lower-level crimes such as theft, forgery and drug possession. 

Weber County may refuse to accept an inmate from Salt Lake for medical reasons, such as if an inmate has “unstable medical conditions and the need for follow-up medical out-of-facility appointments or diagnostic testing.” Weber jail can also refuse inmates if the jail reaches the maximum allowable population level. 

Burton said that the contract is meant to be temporary while Salt Lake County considers reopening the mostly empty Oxbow Jail. So far, the county has not found a funding source for that project, estimated at $9 million. 

The Davis County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to take some of Salt Lake’s inmates as well, according to Sgt. DeeAnn Servey. 

“We have up to 80 beds available,” Servey said. “The exact number of inmates we’ll take has yet to be determined, but they will not be new arrestees, they will be people who have already been sentenced and are serving time in Salt Lake. We understand they need help, and we’re willing to help them.” 

The per-day amount that Salt Lake will pay to Davis County per inmate hasn’t been finalized, Servey said. 

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