"The key is 8 percent of these folks that will never get the message. They're troublemakers and they will cause harm if they get the opportunity," Rubenstein said.
Also during legislative interim meetings Monday:
• Sen. Bill Laird, D-Fayette, questioned why the Regional Jail Authority has more than $60 million in reserve accounts at a time when many counties are struggling to pay regional jail costs and provide other county services.
Executive Director Joe DeLong said much of the funds are restricted to cover bond payments on the 10 regional jails statewide.
The authority had kept $18 million in the reserve fund, but bond insurers required the authority to set aside another $11 million because court fees used to retire the bond debt have dropped off sharply.
The fees, imposed on all charges from traffic violations to criminal convictions, have inexplicably dropped off 40 percent since 2004, from $13 million that year to less than $8 million in 2012. The authority is budgeted to pay $9 million a year of its bond debt from those fees.
DeLong also noted that while counties' regional jail costs have increased, it's a factor of more people being incarcerated, noting the per-diem charge has not increased in years, and actually dropped 55 cents, to $48.25, on July 1.
"It's a volume-driven issue. It's not the rate so much as the volume," DeLong told the Legislative Oversight Committee on Regional Jails and Corrections.
"Until we attack the volume side of the equation, which we're doing through legislation, counties will struggle," he said.
DeLong noted that part of the legislation passed this session to curb prison overcrowding requires pre-trial risk assessments for all inmates within 72 hours of incarceration, and that information should lead to more regional jail inmates being ordered into home confinement or other alternative sentencing options.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.