A new general law, Public Chapter 190 (Senate Bill 502 House Bill 1299), authorizes two or more counties to enter into an interlocal agreement providing for a jail and/or workhouse to serve the contracting counties. Prior law allowed counties to operate workhouses jointly by interlocal agreement, but not jails. If an interlocal agreement is executed to provide a jail for joint use of the contracting counties, then a contracting county is no longer required to have a county jail within the county's boundaries, but instead the jointly operated jail must be located within one of the contracting counties. In counties entering into such an agreement, the sheriff is not in charge of the jail unless so provided by the interlocal agreement. This law is flexible. Two or more counties may agree to operate a jail jointly, with or without the jail being a workhouse, with the financing and management determined by the interlocal agreement. The interlocal agreement must be approved by the county legislative bodies of the counties entering into the agreement. The counties that become parties to the agreement will determine how the jail is managed. For example, a joint jail could have a board which sets policy and hires a professional jail administrator. Also for example, sheriffs and county executives of the contracting counties could be made ex officio board members, all according to the interlocal agreement. This new law became effective on May 19, 1999.
This new law provides counties the opportunity to join together to save money, establish a more professional correctional program, reduce liability exposures, and free sheriffs of some jail management duties so that sheriffs may concentrate more energy on law enforcement.
The multi-county jail approach to local corrections has been successfully applied in other states. For more information or assistance in forming a joint jail (and/or workhouse), please contact the CTAS County Government Consultant for your region or Paul Jennings, CTAS Criminal Justice Consultant (615-532-3555).