Reasons to doubt the wisdom of building an $8.5 million pay-to-stay jail in Marion County continue to surface. The latest one is an apparent shortage of jail officers available to operate such facilities. The Hutchinson News is reporting that the Reno County Jail Annex, opened in 1997, stands all but empty presently because of the difficulty of recruiting help. In addition to Reno County, Harvey County and Sedgewick County had jail or detention ads running last week, too.
Staff shortages and the financial advantage of housing inmates in Butler County has led Reno County to continue housing inmates there after it had made needed repairs on its facility. “They’re begging for inmates,” Sheriff Randy Henderson was quoted as saying about Butler County, which lowered its initial charge of $35 per inmate per day to $30. In Marion County, revenue for the proposed jail has been estimated on the basis of $35 to $40 per inmate per day, and even at that rate the numbers don’t seem to hold water.
Is there something wrong with this picture? —DR