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March 12, 2014

Local crime may contribute to jail funding problem



Locally, this means Judge Richard Van Dyke would be charged with the duty. 

"It's not that complicated," he said. "The warden would submit the cost of food and housing for inmates and we would determine the price from there." 

As for local occupation, Van Dyke said the Grady County Jail's population is just part of life. 

"Judges determine what the bonds are, and some people are going to have to spend some time," he said. "The fact is, jails are going to be full right now." 

Weir said his department tries to cutdown on jail population by refusing the extradition of offenders who only have warrants due to unpaid expenses. 

"If we find out someone that we want (for financial warrants) was arrested out-of-state, we will go to the judge and tell him we don't want that person right now," Weir said. "It's not worth the time and money to send someone to pick them up, so we can incarcerate them." 

Weir and close to 50 other sheriffs and under sheriffs across the state converged on the Capitol yesterday to voice their support for Biggs' bill, but were met with a strange opposition. 

"We were in the senate chambers when an usher came up and told us we had to surrender our guns, or we all had to leave," Weir said. "We all left." 

Weir joked about the concept of state legislatures fearing a group of armed police officers. 

"I mean, do they think we think they're doing such a bad job that we want to shoot them," he asked. "We came from all over the state and they don't trust us with our guns."

Bidelspach said despite the outcome of today's vote, he hopes this discussion will spark a debate over how to handle non-violent criminals moving forward. 

"A lot of these people will start out with small stuff and move up to other crimes after incarceration," he said. "We need to use this discussion to look at alternative sentencing methods." 

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