Board Rejects Housing Inmates

One of the reasons for building a larger jail than what Riley County needed was to provide space to rent to other counties and to the State of Kansas.

That will not happen soon.

Riley County has a "state of the art" facility and it cost so much to run that our daily charge would be $54 a day, or $14.07 higher than the average in the state.

Riley County Attorney Bill Kennedy had a different reason for not bringing in other inmates. Kennedy told the Riley County Law Board Monday that inmates would get to know each other and then come back to Manhattan after being released.

Here is a report written by Allan Cuollins, Jail Administrator and given to the Board:

Background information.

The Riley County Law Enforcement Center has had an average daily inmate population of 52 inmates since moving into the new jail. With one hundred twenty seven (127) beds available, the Law Board requested at the March 2002 meeting that we should look into contract housing inmates from other counties. I did some preliminary work in this area in March and April 2002. At the April 2002 Law Board meeting Director Watson indicated that we would have a report available for the May Law Board meeting. I am submitting this report in response to that direction.

Discussion.

Regarding contract housing inmates from other counties, the first step is establishing a daily rate. To calculate what you should charge per day, the formula is your total operating budget divided by 365 (days per year). Since some of our budget includes utilities that cannot be separated from the overall budget of the facility, we canít use this formula.

Taking into account those things that are specific to the jail (corrections salaries, food service costs, jail supplies, jail maintenance) our cost per day comes to fifty three dollars and fifty six cents ($53.56). Keep in mind there are numerous other items not specific to the jail (fuel costs, electricity, gas, miscellaneous supplies not specifically coded for the jail, ) that effect this rate.

To compare, I called ten (10) different facilities in Kansas similar in size to Riley County and got their cost per day. The average is $39.93. If we set our rate at fifty four ($54.00) dollars per day, we are taking a chance on people not using us because we are higher than everyone else. If we set our rate any lower than $54.00, we are losing money (actually we are probably losing money at $54.00).

It was brought up by the Law Board that the possibility of housing federal prisoners also should be explored.

There are several federal agencies that contract house in county jails. The two (2) most common are the United States Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The Marshals service currently has contracts in place with Saline and Geary county. I have spoken with the administrator of both of these facilities and have been advised that the Marshals service currently pays $40.00 per day when they contract house. Additionally, both of these agencies advised me that they have seen a large decrease in the number of prisoners housed for the Marshals Service. With two (2) agencies so close and the Marshals not using them, it would be futile to attempt to contract with them.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons contracts with Geary county and pays $35.00 per day. The Jail Administrator from Geary County advised me that similar to the Marshals Service, they have dropped in the number of federal prisoners they house. While we could pursue a contract with them, that would not be the way to keep the beds filled on a consistent basis. Additionally, both of these agencies are paying quite a bit less than our daily cost.

Developing the contract is the next step in the process. The criteria for contracts is left up to the contracting agency when the contract for housing from other counties is written. We have to be careful here. If the requirements are too stringent, we would not receive the numbers to justify the program. If we set the criteria to liberal, we would end up with everyone elseís management problems. I would set the following list as a starting point.

a. No inmates with a history of disciplinary problems. This one would be hard to enforce as many counties do not have a structured disciplinary policy like we do. We would need a clause in each contract that the agency that placed them here would be required to come get any inmates we deemed "management problems" within twenty four (24) hours.

b. No inmates with any communicable diseases, terminal illness or major medical problems. Again, in the contract we would need to specify that if this occurred, they would have to remove them within twenty four (24) hours and any emergency medical care we provided would have to be reimbursed.

c. No inmates with a history (which I define as three (3) or more arrests in the last five (5) years)for violent crimes. We may have to bend a little on this.

d. No inmates with serious mental/emotional problems. This is mainly for the protection of the inmates. These type people generally have a tough time in jail and no matter how hard we try, we canít be there every second.

I would start there and make adjustments as we see the need based on the numbers of inmates and the problems we incurred.

The biggest issue with contract housing is staffing. We are currently staffed at a bare minimum to maintain security and provide the services requested by the courts and other agencies. If we contract house, we would move the inmate workers to A or C pod and use E pod for contract purposes. This would require that E pod have an officer at all times. To add a fixed post (manned constantly) requires five (5) corrections officers (the number is actually 4.98). This would only cover E pod. Currently, we have one (1) officer who covers A and B pods. If we contract house, A and B would have our inmates and would be close to maximum capacity. This would require having an officer in A and B pod continually. This would require an additional five (5) corrections officers. Also, as you are aware, the control center is really a two (2) man operation now. If we fill E pod, one officer could not keep up on 8-4 and 4-12 shift. This would require the addition of two (2) corrections officers, bringing the total to twelve (12). Adding the officers covers the additional posts, but leaves very little room for errors. To cover officers calling in sick, taking vacations and attending training, we need an additional four (4) corrections officers. This brings the total number of corrections officers necessary to sixteen (16).

Additionally, If this occurs, I would ask that serious consideration be given to adding a Lt. With that many officers, a Lt. would really help with the span of control, which is already pretty wide. This would bring the total to seventeen (17).

The need for the additional staff is based on the design of the facility. We have five (5) housing pods and only two (the male medium/maximum and the female) have actual cells. The other three (3) are dormitory style. Other facilities that contract house have cells they can place people in, which requires less staff. Using the medium and maximum pod for contract housing would not be possible as it would negate our ability to use these cells for our problem inmates and it would render our classification system, which so far has worked extremely well, useless.

Regarding medical care, Ms. Judy Schrock, the county health nurse, has informed me that the county health department is already at the edge of what they can do. Adding more inmates will definitely cause some changes in our health care delivery process. Although it is not Ms. Schrocksí decision, in my discussion with her she indicated that she was sure the county health department will have to hire an additional nurse to handle more inmates. Most certainly, they are going to pass this cost onto us.

The food service area of the facility would see a big impact. The kitchen supervisor and I have had several discussions regarding the ability of the current equipment to keep up if our count gets to one hundred (100) or more. In particular, the walk in cooler and freezer are almost at capacity now. Another area is lack of ovens and only having one stove. While all of this could be fixed by changing some of the equipment and adding a cooler and freezer, we are talking about a substantial amount of money. Ms. Horton has worked out what she feels will be necessary to continue to operate the kitchen with the increase in population. The additional equipment she feels will be necessary comes to 43,532.91.

The maintenance of the facility would have to be stepped up. Right now, if a door in E pod goes out, it can wait for a day or so. If we contract out, that will be a luxury we wonít have any more. The big concern with maintenance is the fact that if something malfunctions that necessitates CCC coming out, they have been less than enthusiastic about coming here quickly.

Visitation would need to be addressed. We would have to add at least one day to visiting and more realistically, two. This requires at least one staff member to supervise the sign in and monitor the visiting process.

The commissary would have to be expanded. I would try to contract this out if at all possible. It is huge labor intensive project now. Doubling our count would really put a strain on us.

Staff training in emergency procedures, crowd control, use of force and cell extractionís would really need to be stepped up and intensified.

These are the issues that would need to be addressed prior to entering any contract with other agencies.

Legal Ramifications.

There are questions of liability that need to be addressed. If two (2) inmates get into a fight and one (1) is injured, we are more than likely going to be sued for negligence. If we are holding someone from another county and they are held past their release date, who would be held liable for that? I would certainly want to discuss these issues with an attorney.

Financial Ramifications.

If we were to contract out, thirty (30) beds in E pod at 54.00 per day equates to 591,300.00 annually (keeping all beds filled). If we were to keep some females along with this, we could easily bring in 600,000.00 to 650,000.00 annually. However, the additional staffing comes to approximately 520,000.00. Also, we currently spend approximately 1,000.00 per week in the kitchen. Expect this to double, which will add an additional 52,000.00 to the cost. Add the cost of operating the laundry and other odds and ends and the profit margin is very slim . We would see an increase in both inmate phone revenue and the commissary revenue, but there is no way to estimate how much of an increase we would see. Additionally, you could not count on having that as income as it would change from month to month.

Another issue is the fact that any monies made from contract housing would not go to the Police Department to off set the additional costs but to the Riley County general fund by State statute.

Alternatives.

Obviously, there is one (1) alternative to contract housing, and that is to not contract house. Financially, this is a huge commitment and all of the concerns noted in this report need to be seriously considered.

Recommendations.

After careful review of all of the issues, I would have to recommend that contract housing not be considered at this time. First of all, the additional costs associated with contract housing makes the profit margin very slim. Additionally, our daily rate is higher than other counties and I seriously doubt we could keep all of the beds filled, which would be necessary in order to see any profit. Finally, the entire operation of the jail would have to be revamped, and there are several unanswered questions, particularly in regard to legal issues that may arise from contract housing.

Possible Motions.

1. Vote to proceed with contract housing from other counties.

2. Vote not to contract house.

3. Table the issue.

4. Have a more in-depth study of the financial ramifications of contract housing conducted.

Please advise if you desire additional clarification or more information.

Allan Collins

Captain

Jail Administrator