The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office offsets the costs of doing business each year by returning money and free services to the county.
The Monroe County Detention Center rents empty bed space to federal agencies in need of detention services. The rental of this extra bed space has taken place since the facility opened in 1994; since 2011, rental of the extra beds has brought in $14.43 million. In fiscal year 2015 / 2016 alone, the Sheriff returned $2.56 million to offset the cost of running the facilities.
Many of the empty beds are utilized by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement for holding people being federally detained for immigration reasons. The Federal Marshall’s Service also pays to house inmates who are in the Keys attending federal court for trials and appearances.
“We are happy to be able to use this otherwise vacant bed space to offset the cost of our operations,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay, “and our innovative Corrections Bureau staff manages this with current staffing levels and no additional personnel.”
In addition to revenue from bed rentals at the jail, jail trusties work at government buildings and maintain public parks and roadways as well. In the past fiscal year, inmates performed 48,880 hours of service worth an estimated $393,500.
In the Detention Center itself, Inmate workers are used to cook for the other inmates, and clean and maintain the inside and outside of the building. The Sheriff’s Office administration and law enforcement divisions also use inmates to maintain other Sheriff’s Office buildings and to wash patrol cars and perform other types of maintenance, including painting and some construction and renovation work. Inmates are also used at the many cleanups sponsored by the Sheriff’s Office around the county.
By far, the largest beneficiary of Inmate worker services outside the Sheriff’s Office is Monroe County Public Works, which uses Inmate workers to maintain parks, public buildings, roadways and to perform many other tasks.
Other beneficiaries of inmate labor include the County Garage facilities, the Sheriff’s Animal Farm, the Marathon Airport, Islamorada Parks and Beaches and the city maintenance department.