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Food assistance programs guaranteed through February, but jail officials prep for different scenario

SPITLIGHT FILE PHOTO - A Columbia County Jail deputy serves meals to inmates. The jail says money it typically receives each month for holding federal inmates will likely be delayed if a partial federal government shutdown continues.On a Monday afternoon, Columbia County Sheriff's Capt. Tony Weaver is crunching numbers and working closely with the U.S. Marshals Office to come up with an interest rate to charge them.

The Columbia County Jail, which Weaver oversees, is housing about 55 federal inmates on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Office.

Holding federal prisoners has been a years-long practice for the county jail, but in the midst of a partial federal government shutdown, jail officials say they aren't sure when the jail will be reimbursed for the cost of housing those inmates.

"We are guaranteed to get paid, but not on time," Weaver said.

Relaying information his department received from the U.S. Marshals Office, he says the Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail, receives about $92 a day per inmate to cover the cost of meals, housing and everyday expenses associated with keeping someone in custody. USM holds account for nearly 35 percent of the jail's inmate population, jail records show.

"Federal marshal holds are an important piece of our funding picture," Weaver notes, but the Sheriff's Office has been informed that any invoices submitted for services after Dec. 21 likely won't be paid until the partial shutdown ends.

Click here to read the full story by the Columbia County Spotlight.


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