SANTA ANA (CBS) — Orange County officials agreed to a deal on Tuesday that will expand the number of jail beds available to federal inmates in an effort that could bring in $12 million in revenue to the county annually.

Supervisors unanimously approved the new three-year agreement, which increases the number of beds available to U.S. Marshals Service inmates to 282.

Since 1983, the county has had an agreement with the Marshals Service to use Orange County jails to house federal inmates who were detained because of federal holds imposed after legal proceedings on their state charges were completed.

The federal government will pay the county $120 a day for each bed used, with about 86 percent going to the sheriff’s department and 14 percent to the Orange County Healthcare Agency, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said.

“We anticipate annual total revenue could be as high as $12.2 million if fully occupied,” Hutchens told the supervisors.

The agreement mirrors one the county approved last July, which provides more than 800 beds for immigration detainees in jails in Irvine and Orange.

County officials can refuse U.S. Marshals Service inmates if there are not enough beds available, if there are issues with their mental health needs or if they present problems with security, Hutchens said.

None of the inmates from the U.S. Marshals Service will be released from the Central Jail in Santa Ana, Hutchens said.

Federal authorities will take custody of the inmates when they are ready to be released and they will be let go elsewhere, the sheriff added.

The county will begin housing the new inmates in the first week of June, Hutchens said.

“I want to congratulate you on another successful contract,” Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach said. “We’re fortunate that we have enough space, which is consistent with crime being down, which we should congratulate you for as well.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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