One significant responsibility of the county sheriff is management of the county jail. By statute, this involves receiving and holding prisoners from other jurisdictions, setting maximum jail capacities, establishing alternatives to incarceration, and private contracting for jail services. It also means employing jail guards, providing food, clothing, and other essentials.
Jail inmates are classified by gender and a variety of other factors involving safety and well-being of both the inmates, prison staff, and neighboring community. This includes establishing maximum capacity (with county commission approval), which may also involve alternatives to incarceration for certain classes of prisoners.
County commissions and councils are also permitted to contract for the construction and management of jail facilities, with the consent of the sheriff.
The sheriff is also required to keep prisoners from other jurisdictions under specific procedures and requirements. A county may be required to enter into a contract with the State Department of Corrections for housing state prisoners. State reimbursement for the cost of incarcerating state prisoners in the county’s jail is set at 70% of the county’s actual cost.
A county may also be required to incarcerate a state probation inmate, for which reimbursement is paid at 50% of the county’s actual cost. Records and reports regarding state prisoners are required. A county jail may also be required to accept federal prisoners pursuant to a contract and upon the same terms as state prisoners.
Lastly, a county may determine, by agreement, to incarcerate city prisoners and to otherwise permit city use of the county jail. If done so, incarceration is at no cost to the city. By statute and Supreme Court decision, however, the housing of city prisoners in the county jail is by agreement and is not mandatory.
Related: Several Videos on County Jails