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Fri, Dec. 13

La Paz jail deal nets savings for Kingman

If Municipal Court Judge Kathy McCoy isn't looking for ways to save her department money, she isn't doing her job. This mentality saved Kingman $11,824 between February and May and is projected to save much more in the coming months.

When Mohave County officials raised the daily rate to house prisoners sentenced to time in the Kingman Municipal Court, it was clear that something needed to be done.

Last year, the county announced that it wanted to increase the inmate per-diem rate it charged Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City and Kingman from $79 to $98.

Officials from the three cities balked at the price, and the county agreed to lower the price to $92 and complete an audit of its figures. After the audit, the county lowered the price to $88.82 with a $65 one-time booking fee for each inmate.

Although the county has since decided to lower the rate to $80.21 a day starting in July, it's still substantially more expensive than the agreement Kingman has with La Paz County to house inmates sentenced to more than 10 days there.

Kingman signed an agreement in late January with La Paz County to pay $65 plus transportation costs - which is set at 51 cents a mile but allows for the transport of more than one inmate at a time - to house its inmates. If La Paz jail officials are in Kingman on unrelated business and pick up a few prisoners to take with them on their return trip, Kingman is not charged for the miles driven to get here.

Since the agreement went into effect, McCoy said 25 people have been sentenced to a total of 920 days in jail. Any person receiving a sentence of 10 or more days - no matter if they've been in Mohave County Jail for two days or nine - is sent to La Paz County as soon as possible.

Some of these 25 people have yet to begin their sentences, McCoy said. For those not incarcerated at the time of sentencing, McCoy gives them 30 days to report. If there are extenuating circumstances, she is willing to extend the deadline.

The 920 handed down by the court carries a price tag of $59,800 without transport. If these same inmates were to serve the same amount of days in Mohave County Jail, it would've cost the city $83,339. Even if the county's newer, lower rate had already been in effect, Kingman would've had to pay $75,236 for the same amount of sentenced days.

"Either way, the savings are substantial," McCoy said.

What about the transportation costs?

From February through May, Kingman has paid $585.50 in transportation costs.

Adding up the savings

In that time, Kingman has paid a total of $23,260 - including transport - for inmates sentenced to more than 10 days in jail. This accounts for about 395 days of the 920 days handed down, McCoy said. Those same 395 days - not counting Mohave County Jail's $65 one-time booking fee for each inmate - would've cost Kingman about $35,083.

Transportation costs are relatively low because of La Paz County jail officials being in Kingman on unrelated business, people who arrange their own transportation down to La Paz and the fact that more than one prisoner can be shipped at once, she said.

From July 1, 2011 to April 30, Kingman has paid $373,754 for inmates housed in Mohave County Jail and $50,373 for in one-time booking fees for a grand total of $424,127. These numbers reflect 4,208 sentenced days. Under the agreement with La Paz, those same 4,208 days - not including transportations costs - would cost Kingman $273,520.

"We still have lots of prisoners over there (Mohave County Jail)," McCoy said. "We would love to keep people in Kingman, but it's just too expensive."

Not one single security mishap has occurred in the transport of inmates to La Paz County to date, but that doesn't mean it's not a risk, she said.

McCoy said she doesn't envision Kingman using the Mohave County Jail exclusively unless its rates were lowered to $65 a day, and she doesn't see that happening.

Why Mohave County raised the rates last year and lowered them again this year is irrelevant, McCoy said. For her, it's all about the cost.

"As long as it makes sense, we will continue using La Paz County," she said.

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