Return to the USDOJ/OIG Home Page
Return to the Table of Contents

The Immigration and Naturalization Service and
the United States Marshals Service
Intergovernmental Service Agreements for
Detention Services with the
County of York, Pennsylvania
York County Prison

Report No. GR-70-01-005
June 25, 2001
Office of the Inspector General


The Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Audit Division, has completed an audit of the costs incurred by the County of York, Pennsylvania, York County Prison to house detainees for the Department of Justice in accordance with Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGA) between the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the United States Marshals Service (USMS), and the York County Prison (York). The INS and the USMS policy is that agreements are to be based on allowable costs, as described in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-87, and the average daily inmate population. The INS agreement provides that York will house detainees at a jail day rate of $60, and the USMS agreement (which the Bureau of Prisons also uses) provides for a jail day rate of $45.1 For the period January 1, 2000 through December 31, 2000, the INS paid York $16,034,232 to house an average of 729 detainees per day, the USMS paid $280,050 to house an average of 17 detainees per day, and the BOP paid $7,515 to house an average .4 prisoners per day. An additional $872,600 was paid to York for services such as out-of-prison medical care and translators.


The INS is responsible for safely and humanely detaining, transporting, processing and supervising illegal aliens whom are awaiting removal or other disposition of their cases. A primary mission of the USMS is to support federal courts through the safekeeping and presentation of prisoners for court proceedings. The USMS is responsible for obtaining adequate housing, subsistence, medical care, and hospital and detention facility services for the increasing number of federal prisoners in the USMS custody. The BOP provides for the custody and care of federal offenders. In order to accomplish these missions, adequate jail space must be acquired by the Department of Justice in many locations. Due to a severe shortage of federal detention space, the Department depends on state and local governments and contractors to provide detention space for the housing and safekeeping of federal detainees and prisoners.

According to York County documents, the York County Prison, located in south central Pennsylvania, was constructed in 1979 and had a capacity for 210 prisoners. By 1989, the population of the facility was close to 600, and an expansion project completed in 1993 increased the capacity to 1,200 prisoners. In 1999, another expansion was completed increasing the capacity to 1,650 prisoners, and York became the largest INS county detention facility in the United States. The average daily population, including both federal and county prisoners, for the period of our audit (FY 2000) was slightly over the stated capacity at 1,682.

The INS entered into an IGA with York in 1995 at a jail day rate of $50. The agreement was modified in 1997 increasing the jail day rate to $55. On October 1, 1999, the rate was increased again to $60. The USMS entered into an agreement with York in 1983 to ensure adequate detention space was available. The agreement was modified in 1992 raising the jail day rate from $33 to $45. While federal detainees represented an average of about 44 percent of the FY 2000 prison population, federal payments to York substantially exceeded this amount with 70 percent of the prison's FY 2000 operating expenses paid by the INS, the USMS, and the BOP.

Based on information provided to us by York, the INS and the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) occupied about 21,426 square feet of York County Prison's total 376,100 square feet of space, or 5.7 percent, for purposes other than housing detainees. The space was occupied by INS administrative personnel and by other federal employees involved in the EOIR's adjudication activities. The primary INS administrative area was located within the prison and provided offices for the INS personnel involved in adjudication, detention, and deportation activities. York also made space available to the INS in an historic farmhouse on the prison grounds. The INS used the farmhouse space intermittently for an overflow courtroom, working area for two Special Agents, computer equipment, and conferences. The EOIR space in the prison included two courtrooms, judges' chambers, and an administrative support area. Payment to York for the INS and EOIR space was through the jail day rate and not through a separate rental agreement.

York County documents cited financial benefits stemming from the INS agreement. For example, the county's annual financial report for the year ending December 31, 1999, stated the following about the November 1993 expansion of York County Prison and another expansion completed in 1999.

The expansion also allowed the County to take advantage of earning additional revenue by providing space to house federal prisoners and detainees for Immigration Naturalization Services [sic] (INS). York County's capability to house federal prisoners and INS detainees has been so successful that the County decided to further expand the prison facility. The new expansion project, which was funded by variable rate interest bonds . . . began in mid 1997 and was completed in early 1999. This project increased the prison's capacity to house 1,650 inmates and is now the largest INS detention facility in the United States. In 1999, about 40% of the average prison population of 1,550 were federal prisoners and INS detainees and total revenue earned was in excess of $13,209,060.

In discussing the county's 1999 revenue categories, the report further stated that "A new addition at the county prison, to house INS detainees, was opened in early 1999. Revenue from this activity generated $6.5 million more than 1998, causing the 37% increase in the Departmental [revenue] category."

According to the county's FY 2000 budget presentation:

The York County Prison will again be a key factor in providing non-taxpayer income to fund general government programs in year 2000. The total Prison revenue budget is $16.0 million with anticipated expenses of $18.2 million. The ability of the County to leverage the INS program to generate income has allowed the County of York to maintain it's (sic) third-lowest millage rate in the Commonwealth. Without the INS program, the millage rate would need to be increased one mill to offset the $16.0 million of revenue.

In February 1999, the Susquehanna Valley Center for Public Policy also commented on revenues that the county has received through its INS agreement:

Thanks to income from the INS, York County has balanced its $87.4 million budget without raising taxes. What's more the county doesn't expect to raise taxes until at least 2003. The county didn't even need more tax money to make a $6 million payment on its $20 [million] prison expansion project, a project the county expects to pay off in a mere two to three years.


  1. Normally, a single rate for a joint use facility is negotiated by a lead component on behalf of the other components.