DOBSON — When it was established, funding for the Statewide Misdemeanant Confinement Program (SMCP) came from two sources, an $18 court cost attached to all District Court convictions and a $50 fee for anyone found responsible for an improper equipment violation.
That was changed in September, when the Court of Appeals ruled that the improper equipment fee was punitive and therefore must go to the public schools.
The budget passed by the state legislature in September appropriated a recurring $22.5 million to the SMCP to make up for the fees, which accounted for slightly less than half of the program’s budget.
Payments to county jails are managed through the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association.
“It went great, there was never any hiccup with it,” Sheriff Graham Atkinson said of the old system.
The change won’t make much difference locally with the approximately $2.4 million jail budget.
For the ten male and three female SMCP beds in Surry County, the county will still get paid $40 per bed per day, plus expenses for certain medical and transportation costs, but some of money will now come out of taxpayers’ pockets.
Lt. Randy Shelton, jail supervisor, said in 2014 the jail took in about $64,000 through the program and spent about $152,000 to house inmates outside the county.
As of late November, the jail had earned $105,000 through the program, with $113,000 spent housing inmates outside the county.
“The biggest issue is space,” said Shelton.
“Having the space would put us in a better position to offset the cost,” he said.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.