September 7, 2013

Somerset’s omission from state jail panel slammed

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

Inmates read and play board games in the day room in the medium security wing at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison in Feburary. Somerset County officials say they were omitted from the jails panel as punishment.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Phil Roy, Somerset County Commissioner

Staff photo by David Leaming

“We have nothing to say about this,” he said. “Shame on the Legislature.”

Somerset County filed a civil suit against the state Board of Corrections in May for payment of more than $280,000 the county says it is owed for operations at the Somerset County Jail for the third quarter of the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The petition for review by the Somerset County Superior Court seeks to reverse a unanimous vote by the board in April to withhold the county’s third-quarter payment owed under the state’s consolidated jail system.

The result of the withheld payment, according to Lee Bragg, who is representing Somerset County in the case, is that county residents paid the bills to run the jail in January, February and March without the promised reimbursement from the state.

Board of Corrections members said the payment was withheld because Somerset County kept the revenue from the boarding of federal inmates as part of its own jail budget and debt service on jail construction. The board contends that the money instead should have been sent to it to help defray the costs of the statewide jail system.

Bragg said there is no basis in law for withholding the money. He said the money was agreed upon in the 2013 jail budget, which was approved by the Board of Corrections.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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