Mississippi's Legislative Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee, or PEER, says counties are adequately reimbursed for housing state prisoners, but Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie disagrees.
PEER is the legislative watchdog concerned with what the state is doing right and what it is doing that is not right.
In an investigative report released this week, PEER said paying counties $20 per day per state prisoner housed in county jails is enough.
"I'm just like the other 81 sheriffs around the state of Mississippi. I've not seen the formula that they used to come up with these numbers. I believe it's flawed, their calculation. I'd like to sit down with them and have them lay it on the table and allow each of the sheriffs to look at this," said Sollie, the past president of the Mississippi Sheriff’s Association.
PEER added its estimate of the value of the public service work state prisoners do to the cash payment to create their version of the benefits to the counties.
Under that formula, Lauderdale County benefits $55.49 per state prisoner per day. Sollie disagrees with the way the numbers were applied.
"They have taken the $20 a day reimbursement from the state, as well as the money the counties are getting in kind money for services that these inmates are providing," Sollie said. "Those counties who have large facilities like us, who have a lot of inmates who are working, it's going to increase our numbers. It's going to show us as much higher dollar per day than other counties."
Sollie said he expects the controversial report will attract further comment.
"I'm sure the Mississippi Sheriff’s Association will be contacting the Legislature asking for an opportunity to sit down, review their formula, their findings and help them get to the true answer."
"Private prisons are paid $30 per day while county jails are paid $20 per day. Somebody needs to step up to the table and say why that $10 difference," Solloe said.
The Lauderdale County Jail holds 310 prisoners with another 70 at Hilltop, where a garden is maintained. The 70 at Hilltop are all state prisoners. Sixteen beds at the downtown jail are allocated to state female prisoners.