“I’m just warning you — this thing’s serious,” County Judge-Executive Berlin Moore said. “We’re in a financial crisis.”
For the fiscal year ending in June 2005, the jail required $269,997.75 in expenses, according to a recent report by State Auditor Crit Luallen. It only generated, however — via court costs, service fees, etc. — about $70,000, leaving the fiscal court to supplement the $199,718.29 disparity.
Several factors are leading to the increased cost of running the jail. Medical expenses, for example, are on the rise. In October, the court transferred funds to cover $800 worth of medical expenses accrued over just one month. Moore said then that there was a time when medical expenses for the year were only $1,200.
An increase in the number of juvenile and female offenders is also causing a financial strain, as they cannot be housed in the jail. Instead, the county must transport juveniles to the McCracken County Detention Center and pay a $100 per day to lodge the suspect and women must be transported to Christian County and pay $25 a day to lodge them — until recently that lodging fee was $21, Moore said.
Classified as a “life and safety” jail, it is not permitted to hold violent prisoners such as murder suspects, so they, too, must be transferred out of county.
Also, ever-changing Department of Corrections policies require the county to pour more money into the jail. For instance, it is now required that two staff members always be on duty at the jail. That stipulation helped earned the jail the 83rd worst payroll cost to inmate day ratio in the state, according to Luallen’s report.
Also, Jailer Glenn Cunningham told The Cadiz Record in October that the DOC had ordered the jail to replace their wooden kitchen cabinets — deemed a fire hazard — with more expensive stainless-steel units.
Cunningham suggested Tuesday night a booking fee might be in order or perhaps an increase in the $5 fee paid when an inmate is bonded out of jail.
Cunningham said he’s already been in the practice of requiring inmates who need medical care to use their insurance or medical card.
“These are some things we’re going to have to look at,” Moore said, “if we keep it open.”
A budget for the jail will be presented at the next meeting of the court, March 7.
The aforementioned report by State Auditor Luallen, released last week, claims that “taxpayers are paying too much for county jails.”
For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.