Numbers of violent offenders sent to Pratt for housing expected to increase.
The cost of housing juvenile offenders in Pratt County has taken a substantial jump. As of Dec. 9, the cost had reached $85,000 for 2019, said Pratt County Sheriff Jimmy White at the Pratt County Commissioners meeting Dec. 9. In 2015, the cost hit $28,800 for the entire year and had increased to $51,000 for 2017.
White said he hopes the total for 2019 doesn't reach $100,000 by the end of the year but anticipates the cost will continue to rise. He anticipates from $12,000 to $14,000 in additional housing expense by the end of the year.
This is just the cost for housing and does not include the cost of transporting offenders back and forth, White said.
The Pratt County Jail cannot accommodate juvenile offenders and they have to be housed at other facilities. Pratt County has to pay those facilities to house juvenile offenders.
White said he also anticipates an increase in the number of violent juvenile offenders that are being sent to Achievement Place, aka the Boys Home, in Pratt. State regulations allow juvenile offenders, no matter what the crime, to be sent to Achievement Place that is the only facility of its kind in the state.
"We have no say on who comes to our community," White said.
Recently, a juvenile offender, who had no connection to Pratt County and had not committed a crime here, had been sent to Achievement Place because he had served his sentence and there was no place else to send him. After he arrived in Pratt, he allegedly committed personal felonies and had to be sent, at Pratt County expense, to a Hutchinson facility. White said due to the juvenile's behavior, the Hutchinson facility had to transfer the juvenile to another facility in anther town, again at Pratt County expense.
Until this case is resolved, any transport and housing will be the financial responsibility of Pratt County and White said he doesn't like this situation. He anticipates other violent juveniles will be sent to Pratt and he doesn't like that situation either but the only choice in these juvenile issues is which officer will be sent for transport.
In other Commission business, Pratt County Fire and Rescue Chief Bill Hampton said he was working with Pratt County EMS to purchase Medic 2, a 4-wheel drive unit, that EMS is disposing. Hampton said he wants to transform the vehicle into a county wide rehabilitation unit that can be used by several departments. The number one cause of injury in firefighters is fatigue. The unit carries water and food and will provide a place for county emergency responders to relax, get cool in the summer and warm up in the winter.
The vehicle already has the 800 style radios and has room for five in the back and two in the front. The vehicle is a 2004 Ford, has 90,000 miles and a diesel engine.
Hampton said the plan was for Fire and Rescue to pay $10,000 for the vehicle that is approximately what EMS would have gotten out of the vehicle if they sold it. He has funds in his budget to make the purchase. The Commissioners agreed to the purchase.
Hampton also got a State of Kansas grant and purchased six sets of rescue gear for $7,256. This is 30 percent of the gear he wanted and will apply again for the grant.
Hampton is also researching the purchase of e-pagers that would send messages to cell phones. This could cover 120 emergency responders. This system is already being used successfully in Barber and Kingman Counties.
"It's just another way to know what is going on," Hampton said. "It would be beneficial for all"
Hampton will continue research and report to the commissioners at a later meeting.
Robert Torres, noxious weed and environmental services supervisor, is researching prices for replacement tank motor and tank pump for the county bean sprayer. He will research bids and report to the Commission at a future meeting.
The Commission approved payment to Varney & Associates in Manhattan for the audit and budget. Audit payments will be $15,900 for 2019, $16,100 for 2020 and $16,300 for 2021. Budget payments will be $4,500 each year for three years, said Pratt County Clerk Sherry Kruse.