Commissioners see highest jail bill since January

BUCKHANNON – Upshur County’s regional jail bill for October is the highest its been since the beginning of the year, according to data recently released by the county’s administrator.

Following Upshur County Commission’s Thursday meeting, county administrator Megan Pomeroy provided information to commissioners and media outlets showing that the October 2013 regional jail bill – totaling $58,093 – is the highest the county’s seen since January 2013, when the bill amounted to $60,268.

That figure is a significant jump from the September 2013 bill of $44,148.75.

In fact, since August 2012, the only other month that came with a higher pricetag was August 2012, when the county was billed $60,609.60 for 1,242 inmate days.

The per diem rate, or cost per inmate per day, actually has decreased from $48.80 during the 2012-2013 fiscal year to $48.25 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

At Thursday’s commission meeting, Commission President Donnie Tenney lamented the “exploding” bill, saying he doesn’t believe imprisoning people for drug-related crimes is an effective deterrent.

Referencing to a recent presentation on drug courts delivered by Marion County Circuit Court Judge John Michael Aloi, Tenney, said Aloi “basically just echoed what everyone has been saying about putting people in jail and prison.”

“You just make better criminals out of them when they come out,” Tenney said. “As Judge Aloi said, over the last 70 to 80 years, the theory’s been, ‘just lock ’em up’ and that’s not working. As this regional jail bill shows, it’s just exploding, and if we looking at statistics on drug use and abuse, it’s not going to get better.

“It’s only going to get worse,” Tenney continued. “So there’s going to have to be something done to help these folks with drug problems.”

Tenney said he hopes officials at every level of government realize the value of providing intensive rehabilitation services.

“Hopefully, they can get to where they understand that people who have a drug problem need help. They don’t need locked up,” he added, “because that’s not helping them a bit.”

The adult drug courts to which Tenney was referring are court programs that aim to reduce recidivism and substance abuse among offenders and to increase the chances of a successful rehabilitation via “early, continuous and intense treatment; mandatory periodic drug testing; community supervision; appropriate sanctions and incentives; and other rehabilitation services,” all of which are supervised by an adult drug court probation officer, according to information on the West Virginia Judiciary’s website.

In other business, the commission voted to accept the resignation of E911 dispatcher Jacyln L. Tenney, which went into effect Nov. 1

“And we lose another dispatcher,” Donnie Tenney said. “Six vacancies to fill…”

Commissioner JC Raffety asked whether Jacyln Tenney was a trainee or had been with the E911 Communcation Center for some time. Pomeroy said she was not a new trainee.

The Commission wants to fill the six E911 dispatcher slots “as soon as possible,” Assistant County Administrator Jennifer Dinkelo said Monday.