County commission approves more money for Sedgwick County Jail

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Sedgwick County Commission unanimously approved the sheriff’s $2.6 million budget transfer request for the jail.

The sheriff said there were a higher number of inmates this year due to a rise in violent crime arrests. Those arrested on violent crimes spend more time in the jail, leading to higher costs.

“If society doesn’t want all these people in jail, well then, it’s not going to cost as much, but then what do we get back out on the streets? Very violent people. So, this is a necessary evil, and it costs money,” said Sheriff Jeff Easter.

The money will be used to pay for the increase costs of housing inmates, including overtime costs for deputies and other operating costs. The jail is averaging 1,510 inmates this year.

Currently, the jail is being remodeled. After the remodel is finished, an additional 63 beds will be added. Fifty inmates are currently housed out-of-county due to the remodel.

Easter said there are seeing improvements in deputy retention.

“We aren’t seeing near the people leaving. That is because that is the plan approved by the commission last year with STEP raises. We talked to our folks and that’s why they are staying,” said Easter.

Sheriff Easter says 30% of their inmates are a part of a revolving door. These arrests are stemming from other trends.

“We have the issue of meth and behavioral health which impacts many of the inmates that are in our jail. We also have more people in the system because we added 90 police officers in Wichita,” said Sedgwick County commissioner Jim Howell.

While the funds were approved unanimously, Sedgwick County commissioner David Dennis says a long-term solution will be necessary.

“I don’t think that we need to build a new jail. I don’t think that we need to expand our jail. We need to solve the behavioral health problems that we have; methamphetamine is a curse that is happening in our community,” said Dennis.

Average Daily Population:

  • 2015 – 1406
  • 2016 – 1425
  • 2017 – 1421
  • 2018 – 1409
  • 2019 – 1510

2019 Budget Transfer Request:

  • Salaries $1,000,000
  • Out-of-County $900,000
  • Axon $250,000
  • Detention Contractuals $300,000
  • Patrol Contractuals $70,000
  • Patrol Commodities $5,000
  • Judicial Services Contractuals $25,000
  • Total: $2,600,000

NOTE: This story updates a previous version, clarifying how the money will be used.

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