DETENTION CENTER RECEIVES FEDERAL FUNDING FOR HOUSING ALIENS

DETENTION CENTER RECEIVES FEDERAL FUNDING FOR HOUSING ALIENS

The Doña Ana County Detention Center will receive $386,524 this week in federal funds to help reimburse the county for the costs of housing documented illegal aliens detained locally by the state.

Lt. Vicki Garcia, who coordinates the program application for the detention center, said the reimbursement comes from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The county has applied in four fiscal cycles and had, until this reimbursement, received more money in each successive year as a result. In the 1997-1998 fiscal year, she said, the county was awarded $400,083 through the program.

She said the slight decrease in 1998-99 results from increased competition for a limited amount of available funds nationwide.

“We are doing very well in terms of what we receive from the grant,” Garcia said. “We’ll redouble our efforts next year and try to bring in even more.”

Only inmates detained locally and charged by the state can be submitted for reimbursement, Garcia said. Federal inmates detained locally are held under a contract with the U.S. Marshal’s Office by which the county receives payment. Since the state is not required to reimburse the county, she said, the federal government makes a limited reimbursement program available.

Most agencies, she said, do not participate in the program at all, and those who do are competing for limited funds that are meted out by a formula known only to the Department of Justice. Only the profiles of state inmates who are detained for more than three days can be submitted for reimbursement, Garcia said.

Each competing county, Garcia said, is normally required to send a diskette listing all qualifying inmates. The diskette must contain each inmate’s full name, place of birth, length of stay, current charges and past convictions. Those requirements were waived for the 1998-99 fiscal year, however, Garcia said.

In the first year of applying, Doña Ana County received $133,000, Garcia said, followed by $158,000 in the second year, $400,083 in the third year and $386,524 most recently.

“It’s kind of unpredictable,” she said.