County moving toward legal action on jail

The Marion County Com?mission decided Monday it is ready to talk to County Attorney Susan Robson about filing for a court injunction to halt directives from the State Fire Marshal?s Office concerning the county jail.

Sheriff Rob Craft said a memo he shared with Tony Rangel, consulting architect from the Wichita firm of Law Kingdon, makes it obvious that the SFMO has no interest in working with the county to find alternate solutions to its directives stemming from an inspection earlier this summer.

Craft said SFMO says the jail can only house four prisoners when the jail population often ranges from 10 to 14 inmates. He told the commissioners that before the county gets in the position of paying $1,000 daily fines to SMFO, he needs to arrange with another county to transport prisoners there.

Craft said even though SFMO would allow four prisoners, in reality he must plan to hold only two prisoners because the jail must have overnight space for officers booking in new prisoners. He also has to be able to separate male and female prisoners.

The jail at Pratt, the closest to Marion County with space available, would accept 10 or 11 prisoners, he said.

He recommended the commissioners consider a contract for that number with Pratt, if nothing else works out, because he doesn?t want to have officers ?flung out? transporting prisoners to multiple locations.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke suggested the commissioners consider ?playing hardball back? with SFMO when he said, ?I knew the fire marshal would be tough to deal with. They?ve decided to play hardball with us.?

Commissioner Dan Holub asked, ?And, who is the state fire marshal??

Holub said SFMO has communicated to the county through several persons, and none of them will reply to inquiries about who is in charge.

The jail always has two dispatchers just outside on duty, he said, and cameras in the jail to monitor the situation. Holub said he can?t understand why the SFMO thinks an additional fire watch is necessary.

Commissioner Bob Hein said he agrees with Holub on the apparent finality of being able to talk with SFMO on the subject.

?I think we need to talk about filing an injunction,? Hein said.

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