A recent influx of out-of-county inmates at the Ashe County Law Enforcement Center is generating new revenue for the county and more could be on the way if a new contract with another county jail is approved next week.
The ACLE, completed earlier this spring, is currently housing close to 100 inmates, that number varies day-in and day-out, with less than half of those prisoners originating from Ashe County. Approximately 160 inmates are the most the jail can hold at one time.
Ashe County Sheriff James Williams said the new county jail began accepting inmates from other facilities two weeks ago with inmates from Alleghany, Cabarrus, Yadkin, and Wilkes counties now filling the cell blocks. Those counties turned to Ashe County to house some of their inmates due to overcrowded conditions at their respective facilities.
Williams, who has the authorization to approve the holding of out of town inmates, said that the county is charging those counties $40 a day per inmate. The standard fee only covers the housing and nourishment of the inmates and it is not the county’s responsibility to provide clothes, medical expenses, or transportation for those prisoners. All of the inmates, Williams said, are non-violent misdemeanor offenders. In an event that some of those offenders should become “unruly” or violent, the jail’s staff reserves the right to have their original holding location pick them up, the sheriff said.
Jail staffers are currently overseeing over 40 inmates from Cabarrus County, five Wilkes County prisoners, who were scheduled to arrive Thursday, and four female inmates from the Alleghany County Jail (that facility does not have proper quarters for female prisoners). Williams said that he, along with county officials, is currently speaking with Cabarrus County officials about a contract that would allow 50 of their overflow inmates to stay in the ACLE a month. Final approval of the contract could come as early as next week, Williams said.
Altogether, Williams projects that by holding out of county inmates in the ACLE, the jail could generate up to $750,000 each year for the county’s general fund.