With overcrowding issues at the Carroll County Detention Center, county commissioners approved transferring funds Thursday to cover the cost of housing inmates out of the county.
The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved, by a 5-0 vote, transferring $64,800 from contingency funds.
The funding provides housing for an average of eight inmates for up to 180 days or through the end of the second quarter of the fiscal year, according to meeting documents.
The funds would only be used for off-site secure housing if the number of inmates exceeds the design capacity and/or on a case-by-case basis if inmates require special housing, according to the documents. If additional housing is not needed the funds would not be used.
"This money is to fund housing inmates primarily at Allegany County [Detention Center]," Warden George Hardinger told commissioners Thursday, adding that sometimes inmates may be sent to facilities in Harford or Howard counties.
Carroll's detention center has a capacity of 185, but the number of inmates is near 200 right now, he added. This money would go toward alleviating the overcrowding or, in certain cases, eliminating situations where there are inmates who need to be housed away from other inmates or on their own.
This would include keeping inmates who are co-defendants separate from one another or keeping inmates in the same gang apart so they don't try to take over the unit, Hardinger said in a phone interview. These inmates are called "keep separates," he said.
"There's all these kinds of considerations," he said. "[Those inmates are] prime candidates for Allegany."
Despite the fact arrests are down, Hardinger said, the detention center is still dealing with overcrowding. He said he is trying figure out why this is the case. For a while, inmate population was decreasing, but it plateaued and has started to rise.
"Everything suggested to me that our count would go down," he said. "Then we started edging back up."
Something Hardinger said the county is interested in is day reporting for those with drug charges, which could help cut down on the number of people who are in the detention center. Day reporting is when someone is sentenced, but not incarcerated. They would have to report a few times a week, he added.
"You do check in regularly and give up urine samples," Hardinger said.
It would also allow for people to be in treatment at the same time, he said. The candidates for this type of program would be those with substance abuse issues, and not with violent offenses, he added.
"I'm confident that day reporting is a good approach in terms for those people who need treatment but also need the structure of being under the detention center," Hardinger said.