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Federal prisoners bunking at Nevada County jail

NEVADA CITY ” Federal prisoners are now being housed at the Nevada County jail, generating money for an improvement fund for the facility and general needs at the sheriff’s office.

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday agreed to a new contract with the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Sacramento to let Sheriff Keith Royal bunk federal prisoners at the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility for $70 a day.

The agreement also pays the county $35 an hour for transporting the inmates, Royal said.



“Our inmate population has taken a drastic downturn, so we looked at this as an opportunity to generate revenue for the county,” Royal said.

Bookings are down, and alternative diversion programs for defendants have also cut the jail’s population, Royal said.



The county already has been housing federal prisoners for “a couple months” under a previous contract, but the new contract gives the county much better terms, he said.

The county jail now houses 43 federal prisoners, because the Sacramento County Jail is too full to handle the flow from the city’s federal courthouse.

The agreement with the U.S. Marshal’s Office allows up to 54 federal detainees per day, but Royal said a “prudent projection” probably would be an average of about 25 to 50 daily, with 20 transportation hours per month.

Just 25 daily prisoners and 20 transit hours would produce an estimated income of $265,000 for housing and $3,500 for transportation from now until the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, Royal said. The new agreement will last for three years.

The federal prisoners “are not violent types,” according to Royal. “Many of them are in for white-collar crime or drug offenses.

“These prisoners like it here. They don’t want to go back,” Royal added. The federal inmates are awaiting sentencing or transportation arrangements to federal prisons.

The county entered into a similar agreement in 1993 to house federal inmates at $47 daily, but it sputtered out when it became too expensive for U.S. marshals to bring prisoners here, Royal said. Circumstances have changed, and now the feds can pay the higher rate of $70 a day and the $35 an hour reimbursement for transportation.

About 150 prisoners are at the county jail, and it can hold around 250, Royal said. But keeping certain prisoners apart – such as male and female inmates – drops the real number to 200.

In June 2007, the county civil grand jury raised concerns about men and women inmates sharing the same recreational area and said more space should be provided for women to avoid potentially dangerous situations.


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