By Jean A. Flanagan
Sheriff Bryan Ward and Prosecuting Attorney Lucas See agree that a paradox exists in both law enforcement and criminal prosecution – “the more we do our jobs the less resources we have to do our jobs.”
While we’ve been taught that criminals should go to jail, the more people the courts send to jail, the less money the county has to protect its citizens. “Everybody wants criminals in jail, but nobody wants to pay for it,” See said.
It costs the county $48.50 per day for every person sent to the Potomac Highlands Regional Jail. On an average month, it costs Hardy County approximately $40,000.
The fiscal year 2018 budget for the regional jail is $700,000. That’s almost as much as the budget for the entire Sheriff’s Department Law Enforcement account and nearly 50 percent of the county’s entire Public Safety expenses. It is 2.5 times the prosecuting attorney’s budget.
Sending people to jail also reduces the amount of funding available for jail diversion programs like Day Report and Drug Court. This year, like last year, the county contributed less than $18,000 for those programs.