If county jails don't start getting more money for housing state prisoners and probationers, they may stop taking them potentially forcing the early release of prisoners to accommodate the growing prison population.
The concern over such a scenario is great enough that Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, is proposing legislation with a potential $13 million price tag to pay county jails the amount they've been promised for the past several years, but have never received.
County jails were told they would be paid 70 percent of the $77 daily cost the state pays to house an inmate in the prison, which is about $54. Right now, they are paid $45. County jails receive only $16 a day for those in jail as a condition of probation. Noel's bill, which has yet to be drafted, would increase the jail contracting rate by $1 and by $4 or $5 a day for probationers. He hopes eventually to increase the prison contract rate to the full 70 percent.