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Council approves agreement with county for inmate fees

ELOY — Pinal County has proposed an agreement that has left many cities dissatisfied with the increased incarceration rates.

On Sept. 28 the Eloy City Council agreed to an intergovernmental agreement with the county so that the Eloy Police Department can house any adults arrested, charged or sentenced under the authority of the city at the county jail.

But even though the council approved the agreement, it is still looking for other options.

The agreement is for five years unless it’s terminated or renewed.

What left the council unhappy was that the detention costs will increase over four phases in order to better reflect actual costs of operation.

City Manager Harvey Krauss told the council that he has reached out to CoreCivic, which houses inmates for the city of Mesa, to see if it can provide inmate incarceration services at more cost-effective rates.

Krauss added that there is no proposal from CoreCivic and the council should not be overly enthused by the idea.

“Most of the cities and towns in Pinal County have also reached out to CoreCivic,” Krauss said. “We’re looking at possibly piggybacking off of the contract they have with the city of Mesa. I’m not sure that that is going to come into fruition. CoreCivic doesn’t seem to be pleased with that agreement.”

City Attorney Steve Cooper told the council that the IGA is a one-size-fits-all for the county and is likely presented as a take it or leave it deal.

“The agreement does give you a 30-day out,” Cooper said. “You could basically sign this agreement, and if there was a better deal to be had, you could revisit the IGA.”

After speaking with Eloy Police Chief Chris Vasquez and City Magistrate Roger Valdez, Krauss told the council that the city will be using the detention services judiciously.

Cooper added that due to COVID-19 the Arizona Supreme Court has allowed the option of home detention instead of incurring jail costs and the court can look into ankle bracelet monitoring.

“When we send somebody to jail, not only do we arrest them, we’ve got to get them over here to get the information. We’ve then got to transport them to the county and wait until they get booked and then come back,” Cooper said. “Usually if you don’t have proper staff, in a situation like that, that can be almost half-a-day to more-than-a-day issued for an officer.”

The city currently pays around $72 per inmate per day and close to $193 for booking and intake per event.

The agreement has increased fees over a period of time where the city will eventually have to pay $123 per inmate per day and $357 booking and intake costs per event by July 2022.

“These are rates that we have to live with at least in the foreseeable future,” Krauss said.