Either everybody in Vernon Parish suddenly decided to start obeying the law or it's a sign of the times when it comes to state funding. Unfortunately, it is the latter. Sheriff Sam Craft of Vernon Parish announced on Monday that he can no longer afford to keep the facility open.

One of the main factors figuring into the Sheriff's decision was the change in the way the state pays per diem to parish jails for housing inmates. The current figure is $24.39 per prisoner per day. By many accounts that is about $10 less than what is actually needed. Now, with the state in a fiscal bind, the new budget decreases the per diem to $19.39 per day per inmate.

In the case of Vernon Parish that $5 cut would amount to $30,000 per month or $360,000 annually. That's a lot of money to take out of a facility's annual budget. Those figures are based on the current inmate population of 201 inmates.

While Sheriff Craft cited the state's budget cut as a significant reason for his decision he did suggest that other factors were involved. However, no long-term viable solution could be derived. Thus, March 31 will be the final day for the Vernon Parish Correctional Center, at least as a jail facility.



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