Tracking Mesa Jail Costs
On July 1, 2017, the Mesa Police Department began sending misdemeanor offenders to a privately owned detention facility in Florence.
After Mesa voters rejected a tax in 2016 that would have generated money for public-safety costs, Mayor John Giles asked department heads to look for ways to save money.
Mesa had been talking with private-prison operator Core Civic for years about a deal. In the face of rising housing and booking fees at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Mesa signed a $5 million contract with Core Civic to transport and detain misdemeanor offenders who would have previously been held at Maricopa County jails.
The contract is for three years with an option to extend, and it allows Mesa to walk away from the deal should the city choose to do so. Mesa officials have said they want to give the new system one year to compare the costs and evaluate the services offered by Core Civic.
Billing is based on full days and half days. The contract reads: “The City shall be billed monthly by the Contractor for the actual number of inmates housed at the per diem rate agreed upon for the ‘Number of Inmates’ based on the average daily population per month.”
Mesa finance officials said “average daily population per month is calculated by taking the number of days billed per the invoice divided by the number of days in the month. This gives us an average number of inmates housed per day.
“Inmates that are received and released from the facility in the same day and not captured in the midnight count shall be billed at one-half the per diem rate.”
Core Civic’s per diem rate is $67. In addition to the daily housing rate, Mesa pays Core Civic $35,000 a month to cover all transportation between the detention facility and Mesa’s police headquarters.
KJZZ has compiled the total monthly cost Mesa pays for all misdemeanor incarceration in the above chart. Mesa is continuing to pay a decreasing amount to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office because inmates who were originally sentenced there were not moved after the contract took effect.
As most of the misdemeanor offenders shift from being held at MCSO jails to the Core Civic facility, costs have dropped significantly for the city. In addition to charging a higher daily housing rate of $101.72, the county also charges cities $325.65 to book an inmate into jail. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sets those rates, which it has defended as necessary, among other factors, to provide adequate health care for inmates.
This chart will be updated as public-records requests for each month are received.