Benton County Jail is a Profit Making Business - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton County Jail is a Profit Making Business

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BENTON COUNTY, Wash.--Behind the steel doors inside the Benton County Jail, you'll find over 725 inmates, each with their own bed. Many are from Benton County, but others are from areas across eastern Washington. Those are "Contract Inmates."

"We house those inmates here," says Sheriff Larry Taylor. These are low risk inmates. We house them for profit."

Sheriff Larry Taylor says the jail has four contracts with outside agencies... The city of Olympia.. The state Department of Corrections, U.S. Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Each one is billed a different rate per bed, per day. DOC inmates are contracted at $53 dollars. U.S. Marshal inmates are contracted at $69.00.

"In the interim, we can maximize on our facility and lower our operating costs for our taxpayers which is the single most important thing here," mentions Taylor.

In 2006, each prisoner cost Benton County taxpayers roughly $37.00 a day. This rate is low due to the amount of revenue brought in by contract inmates. The end result is a multi-million dollar profit for the jail.

"Just shy of four million dollar net profit margin," according to Taylor. About three million of that is used for lowering our operating costs to house local inmates. And just over a million dollars is used to help pay off the bond debt earlier."

Sheriff Taylor insists the jail will have enough space for the next 15 to 20 years.