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The high cost of locking people up

Incarceration and trials are costing Custer County thousands

Published: Thursday, November 8th, 2012

When Matthew Mattox was sentenced to 30 years in state prison for sexual contact with a minor two weeks ago, the Custer County law enforcement community breathed a sigh of relief. Not only was the community safer after he was sentenced, officials say, but Mattox proved to be a massive drain on county resources as his cases worked their way through the court system, costing  a total of $60,135.54. That includes $13,902.48 for court appointed attorney fees, $130.05 for court fees, $30,358.50 for jail expenses, $8,910.73 for medical expenses and $6,833.78 for psych expenses.
By the time he was shipped east to begin serving his time in the penitentiary—and officially become the state’s responsibility, Mattox had spent over 500 days in the Pennington County Jail, all on Custer County’s dime.
Many people believe when someone is arrested and sent to jail, the state pays the bill to house the offender. Not the case. Every offender sent to jail from Custer County takes county taxpayer money to house once incarcerated.
“They are our responsibility once they are there,” Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said. “We try to control the costs as best we can.”
The costs start the minute an offender is booked into jail. Pennington County charges Custer County $68 a day to house an offender in its jail. The county is also responsible for an offender’s medical expenses—from medication to dental check-ups, physical check-ups to vision. When psychological evaluations are needed—which was the case with Mattox—the county must pay for those, as well. There is also the cost of a court-appointed attorney (around $80 an hour) the county must pay.

When Matthew Mattox was sentenced to 30 years in state prison for sexual contact with a minor two weeks ago, the Custer County law enforcement community breathed a sigh of relief. Not only was the community safer after he was sentenced, officials say, but Mattox proved to be a massive drain on county resources as his cases worked their way through the court system, costing  a total of $60,135.54. That includes $13,902.48 for court appointed attorney fees, $130.05 for court fees, $30,358.50 for jail expenses, $8,910.73 for medical expenses and $6,833.78 for psych expenses.

By the time he was shipped east to begin serving his time in the penitentiary—and officially become the state’s responsibility, Mattox had spent over 500 days in the Pennington County Jail, all on Custer County’s dime.

Many people believe when someone is arrested and sent to jail, the state pays the bill to house the offender. Not the case. Every offender sent to jail from Custer County takes county taxpayer money to house once incarcerated.

“They are our responsibility once they are there,” Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said. “We try to control the costs as best we can.”

The costs start the minute an offender is booked into jail. Pennington County charges Custer County $68 a day to house an offender in its jail. The county is also responsible for an offender’s medical expenses—from medication to dental check-ups, physical check-ups to vision. When psychological evaluations are needed—which was the case with Mattox—the county must pay for those, as well. There is also the cost of a court-appointed attorney (around $80 an hour) the county must pay.

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