A crowd of over 30 people gathered to learn a little more and offer input on possible solutions to deal with constant overcrowding at the Saline County Jail. The Saline County Commission hosted a town hall meeting to discuss the issue.
The event began with Saline County Sheriff Roger Soldan, Annie Grevas from community corrections, and Saline County Administrator Andrew Manley offering facts.
The Saline County Jail has 192 beds. The average daily population increased from 143 inmates in 2008 to 263 in 2017. The Average Length of Stay (ALOS) increased from 8 days in 2008 to 20.4 days in 2017. In 2017, 86 more inmates stayed 91+ days than in 2013.
A consultant has drafted four options to deal with the problem. They include:
- Option 1, continuing to house inmates out of the county, has no capital costs. This option is projected to have operating costs of $141 – $154 million over 20 years.
- Option 2, converting the existing jail into long-term housing and creating a new facility for booking and release, with additional special needs beds, has a capital cost of $51 – $57 million and operating costs of $167 – $170 million over 20 years.
- Option 3, adding additional beds to the current location and renovating the current jail has a capital cost of $43 – $50 million and an operating costs of $157 – $ 160 million over 20 years. This option would likely require the building of a separate parking garage.
- Option 4, building a new jail on a new site, has a capital cost of $76 – $82 million with an operating cost of $144 – $147 million over 20 years. This projection did not include the cost of acquiring additional land.
Nearly a dozen people spoke. Nearly all were against building a new jail in a new location. Some offered solutions that the county commission simply can’t control. Things like harsher penalties for criminals, making jails less accommodating as a deterrent, better drug and mental health treatment programs, more timely progression through the legal process including quicker trials and sentencing, and lower bonds for some prisoners.
Soldan said currently the county spends over a million dollars a year housing inmates at other jails across Kansas. He noted that he believes that is part of the problem. Housing inmates at other locations makes for a much longer average length of stay, which is a major contributing factor to the overcrowding issue.