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York County, SC, sues the cities of Rock Hill and Tega Cay in a dispute over jail fees

joseph moss justice center.jpg
York County Sheriff's Office
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The Joseph R. Moss Justice Center in York County includes the York County Detention Center and the York County Prison.

York County, South Carolina, and its sheriff, Kevin Tolson, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the cities of Rock Hill and Tega Cay, accusing them of refusing to help cover the costs of housing inmates at the county jail.

According to the 40-page complaint, the dispute goes back to July 2021, when the mayors of five York County cities sent a letter to the sheriff asserting they had no legal obligation to reimburse him for housing their inmates. The letter cited an opinion from the South Carolina attorney general and argued that the county should be picking up the cost.

Tolson countered by saying he would essentially close the jail off to cities unless they signed written agreements with the sheriff's office that included rates for housing inmates.

Three cities agreed — York, Clover and Fort Mill — but Rock Hill and Tega Cay held out.

In a statement, Rock Hill accused the sheriff of trying to double rates last summer to nearly $100 per inmate per day with no explanation. The city said that in the past, it has "voluntarily" paid fees to the sheriff, and while the city does not entirely object to paying fees, it would only do so "under a fairly negotiated agreement."

The county and the sheriff are asking the court to intervene and order the two cities to commit to written agreements with the county if they intend to keep using the county jail.

Rock Hill says in a statement it looks forward to "vigorously defending the residents of Rock Hill" in court. The city of Tega Cay did not immediately return requests for comment.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal