Jail houses inmates for INS

Detention center is stop for those awaiting deportation

`Tidy profit' to be made

February 04, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Thirteen men awaiting deportation by U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service authorities were transferred to Carroll County yesterday, beginning what jail officials hope will be a long, profitable relationship.

The detainees, the first to be housed at the county detention center in Westminster, are making the last stop on their way to Baltimore-Washington International Airport for an escorted flight to their birth countries.

By housing them from a few weeks to a few months, Carroll County will be reimbursed by the INS at the rate of more than $63 a day per inmate, Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning said yesterday.

"It costs the county about $2.25 a day to feed an inmate, so it's a tidy profit of about $61 a day for every detainee we accept," Tregoning said. "The INS also will reimburse the county for any medical costs we may have for a detainee."

The INS agreement could generate several hundred thousand dollars in revenue for the county.

The INS has similar agreements to house short- and long-term detainees in Howard, St. Mary's, Wicomico and Dorchester counties as well as York County, Pa. York County is holding about 600 individuals for the INS, Tregoning said.

For now, the Carroll jail will accept up to 16 INS detainees, but no women or juveniles, said Lt. Col. George Hardinger, jail warden.

"This is our first venture of this kind, and we want to ease into it," he said.

"In the future, we may accept women, but no juveniles unless they were charged as adults," Tregoning said.

The men who arrived yesterday were from Salisbury by way of the INS district office in Baltimore, said Derrick Eleazer, one of a half-dozen INS Detention Enforcement Officers who transported them in two vans.

While some are classified as "illegal aliens," most are not, said Joseph Glorioso, an INS officer.

The detainees can come from anywhere -- Jamaica, Nigeria, Russia, South America or Central America, Eleazer noted.

"Some have lived [in the United States] nearly all their lives with permanent resident status," he said. "If they commit a crime and are subject to deportation, they will be going to a country where they have no family and may not even speak the language."

Accepting 13 detainees at once is a "one-shot deal," Hardinger said. "From now on, the detainees will trickle in, trickle out."

County officials also are drafting a proposed contract that would allow sheriff's deputies to transport detainees to and from Westminster and be reimbursed by the INS, Tregoning said.

The rate of reimbursement has not been agreed upon, he said.

Most of the detainees have been convicted of nonviolent offenses, mostly involving drug distribution, according to Eleazer.

"Most have served some prison time and want to go home, so they generally don't cause problems," he said.

The detainees who arrived yesterday expressed pleasantries to correctional officers while being escorted from the vans in handcuffs and leg shackles. They were led to a holding area for a search before entering Unit 40, a secure area designed to board 16 inmates.

Each pod, as the cell-block areas are called, contains eight barred cells with two bunks and a toilet, and a larger dayroom that has a shower area, a television and two large metal picnic-type tables anchored to the floor.

Unit 40 is in the old section of the jail and was recently retrofitted with smoke detectors and sprinklers, said Maj. Steve Turvin, assistant warden.

Until renovations are completed, inmates will undergo minimal relocation, Hardinger said.

When fully operational, the detention center can house up to 256 inmates, but its design capacity is 200, Tregoning said.

Yesterday's inmate population stood at 171, including 33 who are out on work release six days a week.

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