Local delegate drafting bill to cut Southern Regional Jail cost

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Raleigh County has been dealing with a high jail bill from Southern Regional for years to where it is becoming unbearable.  According to Raleigh County Commission President Dave Tolliver, the county’s last four monthly bills for Southern Regional reached a total of almost $900,000.

With that total, it is expected to surpass the $2.5 million allocated for jail costs. That is why Del. Brandon Steele, who represents the 29th District in Raleigh County, will introduce a bill during the January session in hopes to help with the cost. 

“One piece of legislation that I’m going to propose is that the state pays for the inmates that the State Police arrest and place in the regional jail, that the county pay for the inmates that they place in the regional jail and that class one and two cities pay for inmates that they place in the regional jail,” Del. Steele said. 

Right now, each of the eight counties that send people to Southern Regional pay $48.25 per inmate per day. For Tolliver, having to cover the jail bill from the state with a surpassed budget causes the auditors to take other allocated money. 

“You don’t get no coal severance tax. You don’t get no reallocated tax,” Tolliver said. “You don’t get no lobby tax or anything. They just take that money and put it toward your jail bill.” 

Aside from Steele’s bill, Tolliver also is in favor of  home rule applying to counties giving them the ability to apply a 1% sales tax to everything purchased in the county that some municipalities already have.

Other options include money for more alternative facilities like rehab. Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller says more facilities are needed especially as she tries give non-violent offenders second chances.

“We also try as hard as we can to find alternatives and to give people a second chance but then again that can sometimes become a demand by the defendant for a third chance and fourth chance and a sixth chance so at some point you have to say, ‘Okay we’ve given you all these chances.’ The only option left is incarceration,” she said.  

Tolliver says county layoffs would be the last possible resort but something he will seriously consider if the counties do not get relief. 

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