The taxpayers of Jackson Parish receive a bargain, compared to what Lincoln Parish taxpayers pay to house jail inmates in their respective jails.
The Jackson Parish Police Jury (JPPJ) pays the Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO), in its legal capacity as the law enforcement district, $23/day per inmate, for the first thirty inmates, and $18/day per inmate for any number over thirty.
About 40 Jackson Parish area detainees are housed at the facility that is owned by, and was financed and constructed by Lasalle Corrections, Inc.
See here the agreement.
According to those knowledgeable about the operation, no other Jackson Parish taxes or fees are paid to house or feed the approximately 1,135 total inmates kept at the facility that is operated by the JPSO, and staffed by about 175 JPSO employees. Lasalle reimburses the JPSO for prisoner upkeep, and staff salaries. Presumably, LaSalle is able to earn enough from housing Louisiana Department of Corrections (DOC) prisoners (@ 24.39/day/prisoner) to pay for the entire operation.
Meanwhile, the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission pays $29.40/day/local prisoner housed at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center, and $27.54/day/local prisoner housed at other LaSalle facilities, according to a 2008 contract negotiated by then-commission chair, Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone.
The contract is for ten years, and doesn’t expire until 2018.
See here the document.
The Lincoln detention center is owned and maintained by the commission (the taxpayers), and is operated and staffed by LaSalle. It is funded by a 1/4 cent parish-wide sales tax that takes in about $1.8 million/year from citizens who buy and sell in Lincoln Parish.
Funding shortfalls are made good by the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ), and the City of Ruston, that each pay at a ratio of 85% to 15%, respectively.
For 2012, the shortfall is about $140 thousand.
Of note is the disparity in the local prisoner count between Jackson and Lincoln Parishes. As of mid-December, the local prisoner count in the Lincoln jail was about 170, compared to the 40 in Jackson Parish. Lincoln has about three times the population of Jackson Parish (46,735 to 16,274), so it would be logical to infer that Lincoln should have no more than about 120 prisoners, as the two parishes have similar demographics.
The Lack of Public Records
One problem with the Lincoln Parish Detention Center is the dearth of financial information on how much it actually costs to house a prisoner. All the public knows is the total amount of money that the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission pays to LaSalle. We do not know what LaSalle pays its employees or how much money is spent on food and other supplies.
However, a recent court case suggest that Louisiana’s public records law may apply to LaSalle’s books.
Central City, LA, an incorporated city in the metro Baton Rouge area, contracts out nearly all city services – public works, inspections, building permits, etc.
A local newspaper sued for access to the contractor’s records pertaining to the city contract, because of the close connection between the contractor and the city’s elected government. Almost all the city’s tax revenues are paid to the contractor.
While the district court found for the defendant – the contractor – the First Circuit Court of Appeal remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.
See here the decision.
In oral arguments, the plaintiff attorney said:
“The issue the case presents is whether governmental accountability to the public, through public access to records relating to the performance of governmental services, can be blocked by a city’s decision to outsource by contract the performance of almost all of its municipal functions to a sole provider, private company.”
See here some news accounts of the case.
Records case debated before appellate court
Public Records Win
The Louisiana State Supreme Court upheld the circuit court’s ruling.
State Supreme Court returns records case to judge
As LaSalle does business entirely with governmental entities, it would seem that the state’s public records law would apply.