|Sheriff Joey Dobson offered some advice to county commissioners last week: Listen to your sheriff, not to The Baker County Press.
Sheriff Dobson at a press conference in January.
He suggested during the May 7 board meeting that commissioners disregard a recent article in the newspaper that focused on sharp drops in federal detainees housed in the county jail during the first quarter of this year, which created a loss of nearly $500,000 in revenue.
That’s the amount the Baker Correctional Development Corporation, which owes about $40 million to bondholders who funded the facility, lost in housing fees because of the inmate reduction, according to the article written by managing editor Joel Addington. BCDC gets paid about $85 daily for housing prisoners, including detainees from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the Bureau of Prisons.
The sheriff, an elected constitutional officer, basically accused Mr. Addington and Press publisher Jim McGauley of stirring up controversy and trying to pit his office against the county commission.
“Mr. McGauley and Joel Addington do not like the project…” the sheriff declared. “They have opposed the project ever since we started it.” A few minutes later, he said the newspaper was trying to “get us cross ways with one another.”
The article stated that from January through March the average daily number of detainees from ICE, which accounts for most of the federal inmates, dropped 26 percent to 183. By comparison, the jail reported about 39 fewer inmates from the Marshal’s Service and about two fewer inmates from the Bureau of Prisons.
Meanwhile, the number of inmates coming from Baker County grew by some 19 prisoners, or about 17 percent, during the same period. That increase cost the Baker County Commission about $145,000.