Counties able to find some relief with low jail bills

FAYETTE, RALEIGH COUNTY (WOAY) – Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the jail bill from Southern Regional Jail was putting the biggest strain on local counties’ budgets. However, recently, there has been a silver lining with the pandemic in terms of lowering the jail bill in both Fayette and Raleigh Counties. 

Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Mauzy says he has taken the time out of the courtroom to take a closer look at the bills.

Per the directive from the Supreme Court, he has met with judges and defense attorneys during this time to see who could qualify for lowered or personal recognizance bonds. 

“Mostly these would be people who are nonviolent offenders. They’re mostly pre-trial cases,” Mauzy said. “They’re not people who have been convicted, so technically they’re still considered innocent.” 

Because of this, the jail bill dropped this past month to $104,000 saving the county about $20,000.

In Raleigh County, it is seeing an even bigger decrease. Commission President Dave Tolliver credits it to a low crime rate as they’ve gone from a bill of $220,000 in February to $146,000 in April. 

“With the virus, it’s a sad way to have crime go down. Hopefully after we get through all this that the jail bill will stay around – we’ll be tickled to death if our jail bill will stay around $150,000 a month,” Tolliver said. 

This extra time in quarantine has also given counties extra time to take a look at how they’re billed.

Because of that in Fayette County, officials were able to determine that some of their billing was actually incorrect and should have gone to other counties which will give them a $32,000 credit next month potentially bringing down a typical six-figure bill to five figures. 

“It’s still a substantial amount of money, but I can tell after having gone through it like this that there’s only so much we can do to lower it without risking public safety, and I’m not willing to do that,” Mauzy said. 

Southern Regional Jail charges 48.50 per inmate per day.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.