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|Projected OCC deficit stands at $1.1 million|
The Ouachita Correctional Center is on track to post a $1.1 million deficit at the end of the current fiscal year.
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury had anticipated a $1.2 million deficit at OCC for 2009 fiscal year, which concludes Dec. 31.
"We had a $1.2 million deficit budgeted for 2009, but right now it looks like it may be $1.1 million," said Brad Cammack, treasurer at the police jury.
"There's just a lot of things that can happen between now and the end of the year," Cammack said. "We're just looking through a crystal ball right now, but the bottom line is we're looking at being around where we budgeted.
Cammack made his remarks Monday at the police jury's regular meeting.
The deficit at OCC is due to the high number of pretrial detainees and overpopulation at the parish prison. Roughly 60 percent of the inmates at OCC are awaiting trial. The parish is not reimbursed for providing space and care for pretrial detainees.
OCC currently has about 600 pre-trial inmates and almost 300 Department of Corrections inmates. The parish receives roughly $2.7 million annually from the state to house that number of DOC inmates.
In order to break even this fiscal year, the police jury believes it would need to house at least 400 DOC inmates on a weekly basis.
Overcrowding at the jail also is spurred by the high recidivism rate among parish prisoners.
Many of the inmates incarcerated at OCC are there for their third or fourth offense, Warden Brian Newcomer said.
Providing prescription medication for prisoners also is a major expense as OCC typically spends roughly $35,000 per month on medications, Newcomer said.
The 2009 fiscal year budget has $350,000 allocated for prescription medication for the inmates.
"We have a pre-trial inmate right now who is about to have a $15,000 prescription for chemotherapy come down the pipe," Newcomer said. "He has brain cancer and we've got to do what we've got to do."
The $15,000 for chemotherapy would be for 42 days of treatment. The parish also will pay for the transportation of the prisoner from Ouachita Parish to Shreveport each day, five days a week, for a total of 42 days.
To cut back on expenses, Newcomer said OCC right now only hires people when someone needs to be replaced.
"We're not adding to our staff right now … we only replace if someone leaves," he said.
OCC officials also have worked hard to eliminate overtime pay at the jail, Cammack said.