LOGAN — At the Jan. 17 meeting of the Logan County Commission (LCC), commissioners were provided with update on the county’s jail expenses.
The update focused on strategies that have reportedly saved around $4 million in jail fees over the last 9 years.
The group took action on grants, funding requests and a vehicle transfer from the Logan County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD) to the West Virginia State Police (WVSP).
After a prayer and the pledge of allegiance, the LCC approved a drawdown for the stage 3A of the Logan wastewater project.
The LCC granted the Buffalo Creek Watershed (BCW) Annual Children’s Fish Day $10,000 to be redeemed by invoice.
LCC president Danny Godby stated the BCW, “…has a special day where they have a children’s fish day. Fish are stocked into the creek, and the children are given rods and reels and taught how to fish…”
The WV Dream Girls AAU fifth grade basketball team was also granted $500 to be redeemed by invoice.
The commission also approved another request by Logan County Sheriff Sonya M. Dingess Porter to transfer a vehicle from the LCSD to the WVSP.
A letter from Logan County Sheriff Sonya M. Dingess Porter stated the WVSP requested a transfer of an out-of-service vehicle owned by the LCSD that was previously used for the U.S. Rt. 119 Drug Task Force.
Leonard Hovis, a county employee, presented the LCC with an overview of certain strategies that have been employed which reportedly help the county save money on jail fees.
Hovis explained the county must pay $50 a day to house each inmate from the county at the Southwestern Regional Jail in Holden (SWRJ), and, over the last week, the county has paid to house 33 people in the jail.
Hovis reported the county’s jail bill usually runs around $60,000 to $70,000 a month.
Hovis reports in 2006, the county’s jail bill was around $1.5 million a year, and, in 2015, the bill was around $900,000.
“Since I started…in 2006 the reduction in expense has been over $4 million,” added Hovis.
Essentially, Hovis explained he has lowered the jail bill by making sure people don’t get lost in the system waiting for trial or arraignment.
County Attorney Brian Abraham explained he has worked with Hovis several times in his private practice, and added there are many situations where people without legal representation can slip through the cracks and spend additional days or weeks in the SWRJ at the county’s expense.
Abraham noted other programs like day report, drug court and home confinement have also been used to lower jail expenses.
Hovis commented he has been to five other counties to provide training on reduction in jail fees.
“These jails bills have put a tremendous strain on several counties in the state. I recently there was one county that was unable to pay their jail bill. Logan County has been able to get out ahead of a crisis experienced by many other counties,” added commissioner Danny Ellis.
The meeting ended with an update from the animal shelter which reported only five dogs which were dead-on-arrival or deemed vicious animals were euthanized during 2015.
The next regular meeting of the LCC is scheduled for 3 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Logan County Courthouse.
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]