The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 13, 1996 · Page 8
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 8

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 13, 1996
Page 8
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A8 SUNDAY. OCTOBER 13. 1996 THE SALINA JOURNAL SALINE COUNTY JAII Photos by DAVIS TURNER / The Salina Journal Cpl. Lisa Brown and Dep. Shannon McCune herd Inmates Into a van for transportation to court. An attached garage makes loading Inmates safer. Jail has safety features to make guards safer FROM PAGE A1 Later that year, renovation of the former 46-bed jail was completed, giving the county a place to operate a work-release program and a total of 196 inmate beds. Early on, several problems cropped up: • Shortly after the addition opened, a teen-ager escaped by taking a piece of an iron frame from an interior door, climbing on the shoulders of a fellow prisoner and breaking a window. • The summer of 1995; an offensive odor permeated the jail and administrative offices. County officials, architects and builders spent weeks trying to track plown the source of the odor and searching for a solution. • The jail addition is equipped with electronic doors, and some wouldn't work when the facility first opened. • Water in the jail showers was cold for weeks while plumbers searched for the problem. Sheriff Darrell Wilson said the problems were minor and easily corrected: security cameras were installed so jailers could see every area of the jail, all glass in windows was replaced with security glass, changes were made in the exhaust system to get rid of the sewer odor and the electronic doors were repaired. "All of those things have been ironed out," Wilson said. "I'm really proud of the operation and what we're doing here. Things have come together real well." A revenue source One of the best aspects of the facility has been the amount of money generated by housing prisoners from other jurisdictions. Even though Wilson knew Wichita, Wyandotte County, the U.S. Marshal Service and other jurisdictions were strapped for jail space, he had been hesitant to suggest that part of the new jail's operational costs could be recouped by renting jail beds. "We didn't want to hang our hats on that," Wilson said. "We felt like income from contract prisoners could be substantial, but we just weren't positive." But the demand is there. In May of this year, other counties and the U.S. Marshal Service paid $69,761 — at $45-$50 a prisoner a day — to house in- mates in the Saline County Jail. According to Wilson's projections, other jurisdictions will pay Saline County nearly $580,000 this year for bed-space rental. If that income is subtracted from the jail's budget, it reduces the county's per-inmate cost more than 50 percent, from $26.26 an inmate a day to $11.57.. "And it's outside money," Wilson said. "It's like we're a business bringing in money from other counties." The money paid for jail-bed rental doesn't go to the sheriffs office, but to the county's general fund, said David Criswell, county administrator. The 196-bed jail houses an average of 144 prisoners a day, with 36 of those being prisoners from other jurisdictions. But Wilson said the number of Saline County prisoners increases by about 10 percent a year. At that rate, within a few more years, contract housing will no longer be possible. "We figured the window of opportunity would be five years," Wilson said. "But in five years, we can bring in $2.5 million." Staffing for full jail Dennis Liebert, owner of Liebert & Associates, a Boulder, Colo.-based corrections consulting company, said jails across the country are Corrections officer Bernadlne Norman works the control panel that operates all doors and the Intercom system. Deputy Jim Parker watches "the yard." renting out unneeded beds. "You don't want to build a new jail that will be full when it's completed, you build to have the jail fulfill your needs for 10 or 20 years," Liebert said. "That means when you first open, you have quite a few extra beds. Why not fill those beds with contract prisoners?" Liebert, who helped train corrections officers before the Saline County Jail addition opened, said the same number of corrections employees would be needed whether or not all the beds in the jail were. In the Saline County Jail, the number of corrections officers has more than doubled since 1993 — from 16 to 33. Liebert has recommended a staff of 40 corrections officers to staff guard posts in different prisoner areas. "Unless you can shut down a portion of the facility and not man a post, you need to have the same number of employees, no matter how many prisoners you have," Liebert said. "By renting out beds, you're getting extra revenue to offset those costs." The downside, Liebert said, is that out-of-county prisoners could become rowdy and cause problems in their host jail. But Wilson said corrections officers screen contract prisoners, taking only those who have not been disciplinary problems. If a prisoner causes problems, Wilson said, he's sent back home. "We're, careful about who we bring in here and who we keep in here," Wilson said. Fewer disturbances now Fists and food still fly in the jail, as they did before the addition was completed. But David Higgins, a corrections officer for nearly eight years, said disturbances happen less often and are less severe. Before the jail was built, 60 to 80 inmates were stuffed behind bars, sometimes sleeping on the floor of the 62-bed facility. Corrections officers had little contact with the inmates, checking up on them once every half hour by peeking through bars or through narrow slits in solid doors. "Now, we're dealing with the inmates 100 percent of the day, with only a half inch of glass between us and them," Riggins said. "If someone starts whining that someone's been picking on him, you know the truth. You see them. We don't have near the problems we used to." > If a fight starts, it ends quickly. And, unlike the overcrowded jail, there is room to separate inmates who can't get along. "In the old jail, there were fights we never knew about," Higgins said. "Now a fight starts and we're in there. It can't escalate." A 'smooth' operation Back to Peterman, settled comfortably in his chair behind the electronic control panel in the medium-security pod of the jail. With the push of a button, the door of the day room opens and a prisoner steps out to go to a class or visitation. Ten or 15 other men lounge in the day room, waiting for their lunch to be delivered, some of them watching television. None of the sounds from the cell area reach Peterman at his post. If he wishes, he can switch on the intercom and listen in on the conversations, or the inmates can talk to him through cutouts in the glass, but this morning, the sounds are silenced. "Things are pretty smooth here most of the time," Peterman said. 35 r SALINE COUNTY JAIL INCOME PROJECTIONS FOR 1996: Reimbursement from the Salina Police Department • $182,333 The Salina Police Department pays the Saline County Jail for housing Its prisoners. Contract housing - $579,558 Renting jail beds to out-of-county prisoners Work release payments - $14,600 Inmates pay $10-a-day to the county for work release. Medical co-pay • $3,390 Inmate pays $5-a-vlsit to the county to offset the costs of medical appointments. ". • Source: Saline County Sheriff's Office LU o CL u. O DC LU CO 20 15 31 • The number of corrections officers has Increased significantly since 1993. • Training of corrections officers for the new jail began in 1994. • The new Saline County Jail opened In 1995. 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 YEAR SALINE COUNTY JAIL BUDGET: -if 91,000* 'Includes $200,000 for rental of the former Tradewlnds Motel to house prisoners, and salaries for guards at the building. - 980,285 - 1,270,940 - 1,380,382 - 1,550,023 Saline County Jail population AVERAGE NUMBER OF PRISONERS •JQQ EACH DAY Source: Saline County Administrator YEAR 1993 1994 1995 1996 'Includes 36 out-of-county prisoners RICHAE MORROW/The Salina Journal

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