Special to SEGAZINE
Georgia’s 2012 criminal justice reform law reduces the amount of money some local jails receive. One example, Whitfield County.
The law changed some property and drug-related crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. And that has a direct impact on who pays to house inmates.
The state pays counties to house inmates until state prisons pick them up. Because of the law change, less reimbursements have gone back to county jails.
And Whitfield County, for one, has seen money drop significantly.
It costs about $45 per day to house an inmate in Georgia. For convicted felons, the state reimburses local jails $22 per inmate, per day until they are picked up.
But Georgia’s 2012 justice reform law shifts some of that money away from counties.For example, many property crimes are not classified as felonies.Instead of going to prison, offenders stay in local jails or alternative rehabilitation.
Whitfield County Captain Wes Lynch, who is over the corrections division, explained. “Now you see more of those are misdemeanors, so more of them are going to be referred to the county level. So that leaves less people in the prison system which saves the state money, but it also shifts a little of that burden on local agencies.”