The Daviess County Detention Center recently accepted an increased per diem rate for federal prisoners that should increase the jail’s revenue stream between $500,000 to $1 million a year. The new rate took effect May 1.
Jailer Art Maglinger said the increased revenue was unexpected and comes at a significant time after the negative impact of COVID-19. These funds also help offset the jail’s subsidy to Daviess County Fiscal Court.
“When the Daviess County Detention Center set out to increase their federal housing per diem rate, there was no guarantee they would receive any increase at all,” Maglinger said.
The last Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between DCDC and the U.S. Marshals Service was signed in July 2017, normally locking the two entities into a four-year term. That original per diem rate for federal inmates was $40, which according to Maglinger was still well above the state’s per diem rate that has remained at $31.34 since 2006.
On Maglinger’s first day in office in Sept. 2017, the jail held a total of 39 federal inmates from Kentucky and Tennessee. The continued, steady growth of federal inmates has brought the total to an average of 85 since then.
“Prior to taking office, former Jailer David Osbourne and the federal coordinator, Sergeant Raygen Bennett, were increasing the number of federal inmates at DCDC,” Maglinger said. “I was fortunate that the foundation was already set, making it easier to expand on the program.”
Maglinger called incarceration an expensive operation — one where the majority of annual expenditures continue to rise without any increase in the jail’s housing per diem. That has caused some jails across the state to increase their number of federal inmates.
“We have worked diligently to expand the program, while still providing the same level of professional services,” he said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government had been asking DCDC to house more federal inmates. Maglinger said his staff recognized it would be mutually beneficial for both the jail and the U.S. Marshals Service to do so.
However, Maglinger knew there was a risk that the jail’s labor would be in vain, but that it was a risk worth taking in order to benefit Daviess County.
“Although we don’t operate as a typical business, I believe in the importance of being fiscally responsible for the taxpayers of our county,” he said.
The application was submitted on July 13, 2019 and during the resolution process, Maglinger said several local, state and federal officials submitted letters of support on the jail’s behalf.
A housing per diem rate of $55 was accepted on April 27, as well as a $4 increase in guard pay — bringing their pay rate from $25 to $29 an hour.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the project manager Deputy Joni Clark and our Federal Coordinator Sergeant Raygen Bennett for their vital roles in our renegotiation effort,” Maglinger said. “When the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, my goal is to increase our federal inmate population to around 120 during the next fiscal year. With so many unknown variables, we are fortunate to be on better footing going into the upcoming fiscal year.”