OGDEN — The Weber County Jail will no longer house state prison inmates from the Utah Department of Corrections, according to jail officials. The expiring contract comes shortly after a state report showing an increase in state prisoners.
The Weber County Sheriff’s Office will not be renewing their contract to house state prison inmates, and the contract between the two is set to expire at the end of June, according to jail spokesperson Lt. Joshua Marigoni.
Marigoni said the move made fiscal sense for the county, as the state pays the county a set amount per inmate per day that was below the jail’s typical cost for an inmate.
In the contract between Weber County and the state, the UDOC pays the jail between $52-$64 per inmate per day, depending on which program he or she is a part of. However, Marigoni said the county’s cost to keep a person in jail per day is somewhere between $73 to $76.
“It was a business decision for us not to renew the contract,” Marigoni said. “We’re always looking for ways to operate more responsibly and lower operating costs if possible.”
The expiring state contract would set aside 120 beds at the Weber County Jail for state prisoners, but the average amount of inmates at the jail was around 85, Marigoni said. Once Weber County notified the state they would not be renewing their contract, Marigoni said, the state began moving inmates from the Weber County Jail to other facilities.
Marigoni added that there is no bad blood between the state and the county, and the two parted ways on good terms. He said the jail would be open to renewing the contract if the state would be willing to renegotiate for a higher payment per inmate per day to the county.
The Weber County Jail, located on 12th Street in Ogden, holds a maximum of 888 people. Jail staff try to maintain an average of 800 people in the jail, Marigoni said. The other jail facility in the county, located just behind the Ogden Municipal Building and named the Kiesel Facility, houses about 225 people.
A large chunk of the people in the Weber County Jail, however, are federal detainees. A contract between Weber County and the U.S. Marshal’s Service, who maintains federal detainees, sets aside 275 beds for those in federal custody. Marigoni said the jail houses an average of 250 people at the Weber County Jail in federal custody on a typical day.
Weber County owns the largest contract in the state to house federal detainees, according to Marigoni. The U.S. Marshal’s Service pays the county $78 per inmate per day, slightly above what it costs the jail to maintain someone in their custody.
The news of the Weber County Jail no longer housing state prison comes on the heels of a presentation by the Department of Corrections to the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee that took place on Tuesday near the Utah State Capitol.
The presentation reveals that the Department of Corrections recently experienced the largest 12 months of inmate population growth in the past 20 years. In early 2018, the UDOC had roughly 6,193 people in their custody. In May of this year, that number had grown to 6,783, the report says.
Despite the increase of those in state prison custody, the number of UDOC inmates in county jails like the Weber County facility has been slowly decreasing since 2014. The report also indicated that the highest number of UDOC inmates in recent years totaled over 7,000 people in custody in 2013.
The report also outlines that the state prison capacity will be just under 7,000 when the new Utah State Correctional Facility is completed. The new facility will house an estimated 3,600 people. Out of that capacity estimate, just over 1,500 of those beds will contracted out to county jails.
As of June 15, there were 6,766 people in the custody of the UDOC, the report says.