Friday March 26th, 2010 informationliberation.com
MoCo Jail Guards Paid Average Salary of $80,000 (Washington Examiner )
High salaries and benefits packages for guards drive up the costs in area jails -- regardless of facility size or inmate population.

The average cost of holding an inmate in Virginia's jails is roughly $74, compared with $140 at those facilities in the Washington region. The difference was similar in the Maryland suburbs and other correctional departments in the state.

"The biggest piece of it by far is salaries and benefits for [correction] department employees," said Mark Wulff, chief of management services for Montgomery County's corrections department.

Montgomery County pays its corrections officers an average of $80,000 annually in salary and benefits to oversee roughly 3,300 inmates and other people under pretrial supervisions, according to Arthur Wallenstein, director of Montgomery County's corrections department.

Pay rates were similarly high for those correction officers working in Northern Virginia.

In Loudoun County, correction officers are paid roughly $68,000 annually in salary and benefits to keep watch over the jail's 135 or so inmates. The county also paid out about $1.9 million in overtime pay each of the last two years.

Those personnel costs make up 78 percent of per-day inmate costs in Loudoun County, or $132 of the $169 Loudoun spent per inmate each day.

The same was true in Fairfax County, where guard pay accounts for 80 percent of the daily cost of housing roughly 1,400 jail inmates.

Compare that with the city of Richmond, where the sheriff's department pays its corrections officers $35,000 annually and spends just $48 per day on each inmate.

Richmond has taken other steps to lower daily costs, according to Sheriff C.T. Woody.

"We use inmate labor to clean the jails inside and outside," Woody said, which saves the jail system money on maintenance.