County jail inmates spent more than $2.1 million on phone calls and at the commissary but revenue continues to drop over previous years because of changes in inmate spending habits and fluctuations in population, according to San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks.
Gross sales figures declined by 1 percent over last year which itself was down 8.76 percent over the prior balance, according to Munks’ annual report on the inmate welfare trust fund.
The fund, which is money from commissary sales and telephone commissions from the service provider, is used for inmate services like education, drug and alcohol treatment, library and accounting. The Sheriff’s Office also uses the fund to buy recreation items like televisions and stand-alone computers located in day rooms and housing units of the primary Maguire Correctional Facility in downtown Redwood City and other correctional facilities.
Exactly why spending habits are changing is unclear but, after last year’s larger drop was reported, Assistant Sheriff Trisha Sanchez theorized that the economy led family and friends placing less money on the books for inmates to spend at the commissary.
The ups and downs of the inmate population is also cited as a factor in Munks’ report. The average daily population to date is 1,020 but was 982 in 2012. In 2011, the population averaged 979, down from 1,038 in 2010.
The total gross revenue in fiscal year 2011-12 was $2,116,739 which includes $1.3 million from commissary sales and prepaid calling cards and $774,293 from telephone commission and other sources. Although the sales were down, the net profit was actually up nearly $76,000 because of salary and benefit savings due to a vacant storekeeping supervisor position.
During the same period, the fund spent $1,983,061 which includes $608,914 for the goods sold and $391,091 in operating expenses. The remaining $983,056 was disbursed largely to contracted services like the Choices rehabilitation program, Project Read, mental health, county schools and the Service League.
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