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Last year, Collier County received $155,299 from the program for housing 425 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) eligible inmates (an identified illegal immigrant) for 41,399 days _ or roughly $3.75 per day for each inmate in a Collier jail.

For its part in 2009, Lee County received $243,376 from the program for housing 82 identified illegal immigrant inmates for 7,214 days _ or roughly $33.73 for each day the inmates were in the Lee County jail.

Collier’s per day share was lower because it received additional money from a second federal program.

— When it comes to getting federal money to pay for illegal immigrants’ stay in local jails, Southwest Florida has been getting a share for years.

Both Collier and Lee counties have been longtime participants in the state Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), a U.S. Justice Department-run initiative that since 1994 has paid municipalities for identifying and reporting convicted illegal immigrants jailed in their communities.

Last year, Collier County received $155,299 from the program for housing 425 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) eligible inmates (an identified illegal immigrant) for 41,399 days _ or roughly $3.75 per day for each inmate in a Collier jail.

For its part in 2009, Lee County received $243,376 from the program for housing 82 identified illegal immigrant inmates for 7,214 days _ or roughly $33.73 for each day the inmates were in the Lee County jail.

Collier’s per day share was lower because it received additional money from a second federal program.

Overall, the state along with 42 Florida counties and municipalities got more than $21.89 million from the program for housing illegal immigrants from July 2007 to June 2008.

Across the country, more than $393 million was distributed.

As Arizona law takes effect, nation's jails line up for federal payment for housing aliens

However there are various requirements for an inmate’s stay to count toward getting a refund, said Sgt. David Velez, Services Division supervisor for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office’s Corrections Bureau.

Among the rules is having ICE confirm the inmate is in the U.S. illegally and making sure the inmate spent at least four consecutive days in jail — a day less and that person’s stay can’t be counted toward a refund.

“We have no control over the (final) number,” Velez said. “We submit the information to the Bureau of Justice Statistics to determine.”

Velez said the Lee County Jail, which can house up to 2,003 inmates, had only 1,800 people as of Wednesday morning.

And although the per day price of housing an inmate fluctuates regularly, Velez said that currently the cost comes out to about $78 per inmate.

“The more inmates we have, the lower that number (cost),” Velez said, explaining that with more inmates the overall cost is split more ways, which lowers the per person price.

Regardless, Velez said the program, which the Lee Sheriff’s Office has been participating in since 2003, has been good for the county.

“It’s definitely beneficial to the citizens in Lee County,” Velez said, adding that the Lee Sheriff’s Office would continue to participate in the program.

Collier County Jail Chief Scott Sally agreed and said the agency already has submitted its application for this year’s grant cycle.

Yet the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program is just one funding source for Collier, he said.

The Collier Sheriff’s Office is also partly reimbursed by ICE for housing illegal immigrants through the 287g program, saving taxpayers an incredible amount of money, he said.

About 2,500 illegal immigrants in the past three years have been transferred into ICE custody through 287g.

But even though the department does get reimbursed for a lot of expenses by ICE, sheriff’s Commander Mike Williams said he knows that the amount the agency gets doesn’t cover the full cost of housing someone in the jail.

“If you looked at our jail population in 2007, we had two jails open at that time,” Williams said, noting that expenses added up between staffing, overtime and a big population. “Now we only have one jail open, we are not incurring the overtime cost, and we have 35 (percent) to 40 percent less inmates in our jail.”

In 2007, Collier County received $1.51 million from the Criminal Alien Assistance Program for housing 133 ICE eligible inmates for 15,164 days _ or roughly $100.23 for each day the inmates were in the Collier jail. Other figures:

■ Lee County received $193,048 in 2007 for housing 62 ICE eligible inmates for 4,497 days _ roughly $42.92 per inmate for each day. The state, along with 40 Florida counties and municipalities, received more than $24.19 million for housing illegal immigrants from July 2007 to June 2008. A total of more than $376 million was distributed nationwide in 2007.

■ In 2008, Collier received $1.03 million for housing 221 ICE eligible inmates for 21,430 days _ roughly $48.35 per inmate for each day. Lee County received $201,361 for housing 71 ICE eligible inmates for 5,304 days _ roughly $37.96 for each day per inmate. The state, along with 42 Florida counties and municipalities, received more than $22.95 million in 2008 for housing illegal immigrants. More than $386 million was distributed nationwide in 2008.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 897 inmates in the Collier County jail, which costs the jail about $124 per inmate, per day.

Williams said the jail is 500 inmates short of population projections from a few years ago, so those hard costs are distributed among fewer inmates.

“Those are all factors that the Justice Department also takes into consideration when awarding (Criminal Alien Assistance Program) money,” he said.

_ Connect with Elysa Batista at www.naplesnews.com/staff/elysa_batista

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