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County inmates driving deficits

In recent years Baker County’s crime rate has dropped but its inmate population in county jail has not. It’s been growing and draining the county’s once healthy rainy-day fund in the process.

Since the new Baker County Sheriff’s Complex opened in June 2009, the annual deficit in the county’s fine and forfeiture fund, which covers corrections, law enforcement and other related costs, has steadily grown to $3.9 million.

In the four years between 2007-08 and 2011-12, the deficit more than doubled.

Part of that jump is due to the higher daily rate the county pays per inmate at the new 500-bed facility — roughly $85 per day or $40 more than the rate at the former jail adjacent to the courthouse. But the rising local prisoner population, which has been expanding about 10 percent per year, is also stressing the fine and forfeiture fund.

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