Vastbinder: Jail pays for itself
Posted: Friday, September 4, 2009 9:45 pm
By JOHN BRANNON
Messenger Staff Reporter
From sources other than local taxes comes a major mass of money to help pay the bills at the Obion County Law Enforcement Complex.
The cost of operating the Obion County Law Enforcement Complex in fiscal year 2008-09 was $1.2 million, according to Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder. Revenue from several sources, primarily housing state and federal prisoners, “canceled out the cost of operating the jail.”
“It all goes to the county general fund, too,” Vastbinder said during an interview Wednesday.
In the most recent of his periodic updates, he said there are 131 inmates at the jail, of which 70 are federal inmates, meaning people held for the U.S. Marshal Service.
“The last three months, we’ve been averaging about $80,000 a month,” Vastbinder said.
For housing federal prisoners, Obion County is reimbursed $35.01 per inmate per day; for state prisoners, $35 per inmate per day.
“The marshal service pays all medical bills for its inmates,” Vastbinder said. “The state pays only if one of their prisoners goes to a hospital. It has to be an emergency situation, too. The state inmate has to be an emergency admission and stay overnight.”
In all of West Tennessee, only three counties — Obion, Fayette and Madison — are certified to receive and house state and federal inmates.
“First of all, the facility has to be state certified. Then the marshal service inspects it. So we have to meet both state and federal standards,” Vastbinder said. “Not all facilities such as ours transport prisoners to and from court. We do. So that’s additional income.”
“The biggest drug problem we see at this time? Prescription drugs,” Vastbinder said. “Hydrocodone. Pill form. And the selling of prescription medicine acquired through Medicare and Medicaid. They get ’scripts filled, then turn around and sell the drugs on the street. It’s a felony charge. Prison time.”
Fortunately, he said, a new state law is in effect that helps in the war on drugs. Doctors and hospitals must report people who are “doctor shopping,” going from one doctor to another hoping to get another prescription.
“This law is in effect now. It’s more leverage for enforcement,” Vastbinder said.
Back to work
Vastbinder said he’s recovered from undergoing major surgery July 6 at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City. “They removed a bladder stone. It weighed 58.9 grams and was three inches in diameter,” he said. “I was off work the rest of July. I came back gradually, only half-days until the doctor gave me a clean bill of health.”
Vastbinder provided the following statistics about the inmates at the county jail:
• Youngest: 18.
• Oldest: one, between 61 and 70.
• Males, white: 60.
• Males, black: 55.
• Males, other: two.
• Females, white: eight.
• Females, black: six.
• Average male age: 34.
• Average female age: 32.
• Average white age: 35.
• Average black age: 32.
• Total inmate days in jail: 221,573.
• Average days in jail: 164.
• Total inmate bond: $710,500.
• Average inmate bond: $32,295.
• Total inmates that have been in jail prior: 69.
• Total charges against inmates: 248.
• Charged as misdemeanors: 21.
• Charged as felons: 110.
• Average days of sentence: 977.
• Total inmates on medications: 69.
Published in The Messenger 9.4.09