Crowded Local Jails Earn Money For U.S. Inmates


The Lake County, Fla., jail is so stuffed that many inmates — most of whom have not been found guilty of any crime — sleep on the floor. Still, the jail and many others also provide space to people charged with federal crimes, says the Orlando Sentinel. Last year, for instance, the federal government paid Seminole County $1.5 million to house 1,103 inmates even though the jail has only 812 beds for a population that averaged 855 inmates last year. Seminole was paid $45 a day for each federal inmate last year and soon will be paid more. Lake County last year brought in $647,836 — $58.58 a day per inmate — for housing about 55 federal inmates at a time, even though the jail is so crowded that some inmates sleep on plastic “boats” on the floor.

Tom Kurrus, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said people should be reminded that most of those in county jails –have been accused of crimes but not found guilty. “For those that are innocent, this imposes a penalty before they even get their day in court,” he said. “With the people that have been convicted and serving county jail time, it really does make it inhumane and goes beyond the level of punishment the court deemed appropriate for them.” In 1998, the Middle District — which stretches from south of Jacksonville to Fort Myers and includes Central Florida — had 700 new federal inmates. “We’re only halfway through 2004, and we’re already at 550 new intakes,” said Brian Lord, deputy U.S. marshal. “We’ll easily double what we were five years ago.”


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