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Original Author: Pullen, Mark
Date of Material: 01/29/1996

Subjects(s):
Jails and inmates

Does the City Have to Pay the County to Incarcerate Prisoners Arrested and Prosecuted for State Law Violations by the City?

Reviewed Date: 06/30/2021
Summary:
MTAS was asked whether the city has to pay the county to incarcerate prisoners arrested and prosecuted for state law violations by the city.


January 29, 1996

Recently you approached me wanting to know the effect of Attorney General Opinion No. 95-111 on your city. Your city court has concurrent jurisdiction to hear misdemeanors against state law committed within city limits. You wanted to know if the city has to pay the county to incarcerate prisoners arrested and prosecuted for these state law violations by the city. The answer is no.

OAG No. 95-111 makes it clear that, absent a statute or contract with the county, a municipality is not liable for the costs of incarcerating prisoners sent to the county jail by city court. In addition, OAG No. U91-01 opines that the county jail may not refuse to accept such prisoners.

This opinion, along with OAG No. U89-29, form a firm backing for 95-111. These opinions state that the county jail or workhouse is the authorized place of confinement for state offenses. See Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-20-101 etseq. The cases of State v. Womack, 69 Tenn. 559 (1878); Lynch v. Jackson County, 131 Tenn. 72, 74, 173 S.W.40 (1914). hold that the costs of incarceration are created by statute thus cannot be assessed against anyone except where authorized. Since Tennessee does not impose liability by statute upon municipalities for costs arising in connection with the enforcement of state law, in the absence of a contract with the county, the city is not liable for the costs of holding prisoners in the county jail.

I have enclosed the opinions cited. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions regarding this or any other matter.