By Mike LInn
County officials are taking parents of Roosevelt County juvenile offenders to court to retrieve the costs of transporting and housing the inmates to area detention centers.
Roosevelt County Attorney Eric Dixon filed 53 civil summons seeking roughly $50,000 the county paid to Curry and Quay counties for housing the juvenile inmates because Roosevelt County does not have a juvenile detention center.
Since March, county officials have sent letters to parents seeking payment and there are 32 families currently in payment plans to eradicate the debts, according to figures from the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department.
“Many of the families have been very cooperative and we appreciate that,” Dixon said, “but we still need the others to enter some sort of payment plan for these funds.”
State statute allows counties to recoup funds for housing juveniles, Roosevelt County Administrator Charlene Hardin said. The costs to Roosevelt County run $85 a night for inmates housed in Quay County, and that doesn’t include transportation costs.
“There are some pretty hefty bills there,” Hardin said. “There are some people who only pay $5 or $10 a month. That’s all we are asking, that they make an attempt to pay this debt.”
The debts tallied from housing the juveniles range from $100 to as much as $4,951 for one former juvenile inmate, according to Dixon.
Officials at the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department said they began sending bills for the debts in March. Some of the bills involve juveniles housed as far back as 2001, officials said.
The reason efforts to collect the debts were not done sooner is because former Roosevelt County Sheriff C.D. “Corkey” Newberry had not opted too seek reimbursement for the funds, Sgt. Rick Short of the Sheriff’s Department said.
Newberry was unavailable for comment Tuesday, but Short added that attempting to collect the funds is optional, not mandated by state statute.
When Sheriff Tom Gossett took over in January, he made it a priority to collect those funds, Short added.