- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Lafayette County is bucking a nationwide trend with a jail under-crowding problem - a problem that’s caused the county to enact a tax hike.

The Oxford Eagle reports (https://bit.ly/1gKFAau) that the number of federal inmates housed at the Lafayette County Detention Center began dwindling a few years ago as other counties built jails to house federal inmates. The federal government pays $45 per day to house its inmates.

The newspaper reports that last week the county’s board of supervisors revealed the problem.

Lafayette County has been providing housing for federal inmates for more than two decades. Officials say revenue rose to as much as $2 million annually but the once-lucrative housing program has lost $800,000 in revenue.

The county raised the millage rate for the first time in 10 years.

The decline in prisoners in Lafayette County is due to a 34 percent decline in federal inmates in the district since 2011 and because the U.S. Marshals Service is seeking to house prisoners closer to where their cases are being tried, according to Lynzey Donahue, a Marshals Service spokeswoman.

County leaders are not pleased with the decline in prisoners.

“I’m not trying to blame anyone, but we were one of the few willing to participate with the federal government,” Supervisors President Jeff Busby said. “When you take an almost $800,000 hit, that’s hard to overcome.”

Sheriff Buddy East said in the past more than 120 prisoners were housed in the jail. He credited the decline in prisoners in part to the Marshals Service having more planes to fly prisoners from place to place.

“They’re also moving them out faster,” East said. “They used to sit here three or four months before being moved to a federal prison. Now, they’re only here a few days - maybe a week.”

Regardless, East said the detention center is required to reserve 50 beds for federal inmates.

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Information from: Oxford Eagle, https://www.oxfordeagle.com

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