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DesMarais pushes for subcommittee on jail operations

June 20, 2019
OSSIPEE — Carroll County Delegation Chair Edie DesMarais (D-Wolfeboro) wants to form a County Jail subcommittee. The idea is expected to go to a formal vote of the full 15-member Delegation in July.

DesMarais said there were a lot of questions that arose during the January-March budgeting process that the delegation did not have time to fully explore. By forming a special study committee in July, she said, will allow eight months to fully explore the budget.

According to the 2018 Carroll County Annual Report, the estimated 2019 jail budget is $3.8 million, and it generates a $125,000 in revenue by housing inmates from other counties.

DesMarais said the goal is not to investigate personnel because she believes the jail is well run, as efficiently as possible. With jail and bail reform, the number of Carroll County inmates at the jail is reduced almost by half, yet the costs to run the jail continue to rise, she said.

While other jails are taking in more lucrative ICE holds and federal inmates, they don't have room for their own county inmates so are shipping them to Carroll County, said DesMarais. And while, based on figures she has been able to gather, the cost to house an inmate per day is $300, yet Carroll County receives merely a fraction of this from sending counties.

DesMarais said she became "frustrated" during the recent budget process when members were arguing over $50 or $1,000 payments but did not have a complete understanding of the $4 million jail budget.

The committee can be a "look to the future," she said, by looking at the average census, true daily costs, and possible options to renovate the jail building to accommodate lower numbers of housed inmates. And, with enough members of the committee, there could be subgroups to delve into specific parts of the study and to visit other jails.

"I don't have any answers. I just have lots and lots of questions," said DesMarais.

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Varney Smith
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