From October 15 to November 15, “parole violators” spent a total of 793 days in the Saline County Jail.
The County’s Committee to Reduce Jail Population asked staff at the State Parole, Community Corrections, and Court Services to track the number of days that “supervised offenders” spent in jail when these agencies have requested that these individuals be detained. This number does not include jail days for offenders who have been jailed as a result of new charges or new arrests.
Four different kinds of probationer/parolee violations were tracked:
- “Jail Sanction” are probationers/parolees who are housed at the county jail when ideally these individuals would be held at a state prison. Jail Captain Brent Melander said the state reimburses the county for the costs of housing these individuals. “Jail Sanctions” accounted for 113 jail days; Community Corrections clients accounted for 85 jail days while Court Services clients accounted for 28 jail days.
- “Arrest and Detain” violations involve those who–as part of being monitored—are considered to be a danger to themselves and others. This might involve an offender who is seriously intoxicated. Arrest and Detain warrants accounted for 71 jail days; State Parole clients accounted for 12 jail days, Community Corrections clients accounted for 55 jail days and Court Services clients accounted for 4 jail days.
- “PV Warrants” are true parole violation warrants. These accounted for 240 jail days; State Parole clients accounted for 55 jail days; Community Corrections clients accounted for 136 jail days and Court Services accounted for 49 jail days.
- “Court Imposed” violation determinations resulted in 369 jail days. Community Corrections clients accounted for 104 jail days while Court Services clients accounted for 265 days.
Overall, of the 793 days tracked in a 32 day “month:
- State Parole clients accounted for 67 jail days.
- Community Corrections accounted for 380 jail days.
- Court Services accounted for 346 days.
Community Corrections Director Annie Grevas and Court Administrator Todd Heitschmidt coordinated efforts to have their staff gather this information for the first time. At last week’s committee meeting, Grevas and Heitschmidt expressed surprise at how some of the numbers came in.
Those who look at the daily booking log at the Saline County Jail’s website frequently see “parole violation” listed as a charge for the detainees. Often, if an offender is arrested again or is charged with a new crime, they have “violated their parole”. But, the above data specifically does not track this.
The 793 jail days/month figure reflects “supervised offenders” who perhaps are not complying with Court ordered conditions that allow them to be released from jail. These individuals may not be keeping court dates or treatment appointments. State statutes give the three agencies options for dealing with problematic offenders. A judge makes the decision to put an offender back in jail.
With 680 jail days in “a month” that likely won’t be reimbursed by the state, county tax-payers are essentially paying the cost to detain “supervised offenders” in the jail. It costs the county $50-55/day to jail each inmate, this translates into a monthly cost of $34,000. Extrapolated, this cost becomes $408,000/year. The average daily jail census varies significantly over the course of a year, from a low of 170 inmates to over 310 inmates during summer months.
For several years, county officials and voters have considered measurers to address jail overcrowding. With 793 jail days in a month going to house “supervised offenders”, this is the equivalent to a daily census of 25 inmates.
Some interest was expressed at the committee meeting to gather these figures again in six months. It might be helpful to also track the number of offenders involved, so it would be possible to calculate the average number of days a “supervised offender” is being detained.
As the state budget continues to be tight, it is unclear if this is an intentional or unintentional shift of costs onto the county. State Parole, Community Corrections and Court Services are essentially state agencies that work closely with local law enforcement.
County Attorney Ellen Mitchell has made it a priority for her staff to complete “journal entries”, which are a part of moving individuals out of the county jail and into state prisons as soon as decisions are made.
It is unclear if the Committee to Reduce Jail Population will continue into 2017. County Commissioner Dave Smith has expressed continued interest in seeing additional research, technical assistance and alternatives be developed to address issues surrounding the jail population.