Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

December 5, 2012

Boyd County Fiscal Court OKs defendant monitoring deal

CATLETTSBURG —  Following an occasionally heated discussion, the Boyd County Fiscal Court on Tuesday voted to approve a long-term contract with a local firm to provide tracking services for defendants on pretrial release and home incarceration.

The vote to ratify the two-year agreement with BWH Security was 4-1, with Commissioner Carl Tolliver casting the dissenting vote.

BWH has been providing tracking services to the county for about 18 months. The fiscal court had explored the possibility of switching providers after a Lexington-based company, Corrisoft, offered the fiscal court a contract to provide ankle and cell phone monitoring at a cost of $5 per day per participant. Under Corrisoft’s program, employees of the Boyd County Detention Center would have been trained to track defendants’ movements.

By comparison, BWH charges $7 a day plus a $25-a-week monitoring charge to be paid by the participant. However, in cases where a defendant is indigent, the county must pick up the entire tab.

Retired Boyd Circuit Judge Marc Rosen, who worked with the county as an unpaid consultant on the matter, said earlier this year that switching from BWH to Corrisoft would reduce the county’s annual cost for tracking services by more than half.

However, BWH CEO Scott Ball said comparing his company’s program to Corrisoft’s was like comparing apples to oranges because BWH provides services other than ankle monitoring. Among them, he said, are drug testing and home searches, which judges may prescribe as conditions of home confinement.

BWH also provides domestic violence tracking devices and employs licensed police officers who can respond quickly if a defendant violates home incarceration, said Ball, who is also a Boyd County sheriff’s deputy.

According to Judge-Executive William “Bud” Stevens, the county has paid about $88,000. But doing so, he said, has saved the county more than $400,000 in jail costs.

Factoring in medical costs and other intangibles, Stevens said it costs the county roughly $50 a day to incarcerate a defendant. Given that, the county comes out ahead even in cases where it has to absorb the $25 weekly monitoring fee, he said.

Still, by switching to a lower-cost provider, Tolliver maintained, the county could save even more money, and perhaps even make a little. With Corrisoft, the county could make defendants responsible for the $5 daily fee, or perhaps charge them a little bit more than that, he said.

By remaining with BWH, “It feels like we’re cutting off the arm to save the leg,” Tolliver said.

Commissioner David Salisbury said the fiscal court had been told by the judges who use the home-incarceration program they would prefer the county remain with BWH because it’s a locally owned company.

At one point during Tuesday’s meeting, Ball told the fiscal court it was his understanding Rosen had “tried to pitch Corrisoft” to officials in Carter County and been turned down. That remark drew a heated response from Rosen, who called it an outright lie.

Rosen said he didn’t work for Corrisoft and his only interest in the matter was to see the county got the deal that was best for the taxpayers of Boyd County.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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