The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

March 7, 2013

Jail Authority has $24 million surplus; Laird a ‘bit concerned’

With counties struggling to pay charges, their scrutiny is justified, senator says

CHARLESTON — A Fayette County legislator voiced concern Wednesday that the Regional Jail Authority has erected a massive surplus at a time county commissions are struggling to pay bills to keep inmates locked up.

A four-time sheriff, Sen. Bill Laird, D-Fayette, recently learned from Authority Director Joe DeLong that his agency has amassed a $24 million surplus.

“We’re a little bit concerned in hearing about the accumulated surplus they appear to have in their regional jails,” Laird said Wednesday.

“Obviously, if the regional jails are accumulating a surplus, the per diem is generating more revenue than the cost of operations, which would be some real concern to local units of government.”

Counties shell out $48.50 per day to house each inmate, and some are fighting to stay above water.

This week, Raleigh County Commission President Dave Tolliver said the cost of housing inmates the past five years at Southern Regional has cost taxpayers almost $12 million.

If the jail authority has money in hand, Laird said, perhaps the time has come to consider lowering the per diem rate.

“I think that’s something that should be looked at very carefully,” he said.

“They aren’t there to generate surpluses or make money. The per diem is intended to offset the costs of their operation.”

Laird said the cost in his home county has shot up by some $200,000 already over 2012.

“That’s a big concern for a lot of counties,” the senator said.

Laird, in the meantime, is moving a bill that would hopefully ease some of the congestion in the 10-jail system.

The proposal, approved a year ago by the House of Delegates, would provide extra good time credit for inmates who choose to enroll and complete certain treatment programs at regional jails.

“These good time opportunities were made applicable to those persons having been sentenced to more than six months in regional jails,” Laird said.

“It was discovered, though, there were 319 persons in regional jails at the time they were surveyed, who are serving a flat six months, not six months and a day. Due to the fact it’s a flat, six-month sentence, as opposed to six months and a day, they’re not eligible to participate in the program.”

Laird’s bill would cover inmates in for at least six months, not just an extended term, to participate in such programs as anger management, substance abuse, domestic violence, life skills, parenting and alcohol abuse.

“They’re good solid treatment programs,” he said.

“It’s just a way to encourage people to participate and enroll in these programs.”

Laird said the measure potentially could save counties a combined $435,000 annually in inmate costs, provided the inmates take advantage of the programs.

— E-mail:

Text Only
Latest News
  • UMWA1.jpg More than 5,000 protesting new EPA rules at rally

    Today, 73 buses will bring miners and UMW members to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a labor rally and march through downtown Pittsburgh.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kroger restricts pseudoephedrine sales in state

    Supermarket chain Kroger is tightening monthly purchase limits of cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine at its West Virginia stores.

    July 31, 2014

  • ‘Biscuit guy’ makes his mark with anthem at TWV

    The old saying “being at the right place at the right time” couldn’t be more true for Calvin Alexander. Thanks to a salad dressing bottle (and some impressive vocal skills), Alexander was invited to sing the national anthem not once, but twice, at Theatre West Virginia before the opening of “Hatfields and McCoys."

    July 31, 2014

  • legion American Legion posts plan to merge

    To help deal with its decreasing membership numbers, Beckley American Legion Post 70 is planning a merger with Post 32. INCLUDES TOUT VIDEO.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • legal Tort reform group brings message to Beckley

    How can West Virginia create more jobs and have a better business climate, at no cost to taxpayers? Greg Thomas, executive director of the West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA), says legal reform is one of the answers to that question.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tri-state coal interests rally before hearings

     More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.

    July 31, 2014

  • Judge in W.Va. asked to delay gay marriage ruling

    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has asked a judge to postpone ruling on a federal lawsuit challenging West Virginia's same-sex marriage ban until the U.S. Supreme Court reviews a ruling in a similar case in Virginia.

    July 30, 2014

  • Tri-state coal interests rally before EPA hearings

    More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.

    July 30, 2014

  • Work continues on stand-alone Warrior Trail

    The executive director of the Hatfield and McCoy Trail Authority said Tuesday that officials are still working toward the creation of the stand-alone Warrior Trail in McDowell County.

    July 30, 2014

  • East River Mountain Tunnel repairs will continue for several weeks

    Motorists traveling Interstate 77 could see slight delays again tonight as repair work continues inside of the fire-damaged East River Mountain Tunnel.

    July 30, 2014