Beaumont responds on county jail disagreement

Sheriff Zena Stephens walks to one of the emptied dorms at the Jefferson County Jail, where roughly 60 of the near 700 inmates and more than a dozen employees have tested positive for COVID-19 recently. Empty dorms are being prepared to house those who are positive, and mass testing is underway at the site.
source Kim Brent

A decade-old contractual disagreement between Jefferson County and the cities of Port Arthur and Beaumont could soon leave new prisoners without a place to be housed.

The Jefferson County Commissioners today are set to consider ending a 35-year agreement with the City of Beaumont and 30-year agreement with Port Arthur that allows the cities to house prisoners in the county jail.

The agreement with Beaumont was signed in 1986 and set to last until canceled.

The day for that cancellation may have come, stemming from a disagreement regarding how the city will pay for housing prisoners.

The City of Beaumont believes the county is treating other cities in area different than it and Port Arthur.

“Jefferson County was charging a higher rate per day per prisoner for Beaumont and Port Arthur,” a Monday news release said. “We felt this was unfair and wanted all cities to be treated the same.”

As the years have gone by, the cost of housing prisoners has increased, but the release says the increase hasn’t been uniform. The county charged Nederland, Port Neches and Groves $55 per day and charged Beaumont and Port Arthur $75 per day, according to the release.

But Jefferson County Auditor Patrick Swain says that isn’t true.

Written by Rachel Kersey

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