Sneak Peak: UG's Jail Efficiency Study
Did you know that the Unified Government spends more than $2 million a year to house Wyandotte County inmates in jails other than our own? These “farm outs,” and strategies for reducing them, are one of the topics that will be discussed this evening during a presentation of the Unified Government’s Jail Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study. If you can make it to City Hall for the 5 p.m. presentation, please do. If not, you can watch it on UGTV or stream the meeting live on our YouTube channel. I feel strongly as mayor that it is our responsibility to maintain the safety of our community, and to do so in the most cost-effective way possible. To this end, I have initiated a series of studies designed to identify how Unified Government operations can become more efficient. In addition to the jail study, a study of fire department operations was completed earlier this year. A study of the police department operations will begin later this year.
As you will see with the jail study, and as we’ve already discovered with the fire study, a common theme is emerging: In order to save money, create efficiencies, and alleviate the taxpayers’ burden, we must invest in strategies that address our communities most pressing needs as efficiently as possible. In the case of our corrections facilities, for example, the study recommends that we consider hiring more corrections officers and making repairs and renovations to the jail in order to avoid the current expenses related to sending Wyandotte County inmates to other jails.
One of the key recommendations is moving our juvenile offenders out of the jail and into a new facility where they will receive the support required to succeed in school and at home upon their release. It also recommends that we consider investing in programs designed to keep people out of jail in the first place. Projects, for example, that divert people with mental illness from the corrections system; that promote strategies for reducing recidivism; and that prevent domestic violence. The study, conducted by Treanor Architects, concluded that with the proper investment, Wyandotte County can, over time, eliminate that $2 million cost for “farm outs.”
I want to applaud Sheriff Don Ash and the Unified Government administration for their assistance with the study—and their commitment to identifying the best ways to invest your tax dollars. Their help has been invaluable.
I also look forward to discussing these proposals with the Commission tonight.