It’s been six months since the Livingston County Jail shut its doors.  Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with Sheriff Steve Cox:

Steve Cox

The Sheriff’s Office is making an effort to periodically share the budget status since closing.  “It’s difficult when you take a big step like this, exactly what will happen.  You have variables that you can not account for.  We have no control over bad choices people make outside of here,” said Cox.

The total amount used for monthly bills is currently less than 41.67 percent.  Cox said, while they are below budget right now, it could easily change with an influx of detainees.

Livingston County now sends prisoners to the Davies DeKalb Regional Jail.

Press Release from the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office

In December 2012 we promised to periodically report the status of our jail housing situation when the county commission contracted to close the Livingston County Jail. This is the second report to the public on our budget status and all figures are from the County Clerks Expenditures Report as of May 31, 2013.

Our Board of Prisoners budget for the Livingston County Jail currently stands as having used 39.29% of our budget as compared to line items which are paid in 12 equal monthly payments show an expenditure of 41.67%, meaning we are basically 2.38% under our budget.

The budget line item for Inmate Medical Care shows we have used 37.87% and are under budget by 3.80%. Also, the line item for Inmate Transportation shows we have used 32.2% thus being under budget 9.35%. Our 2013 budget for these three line items totals $389,900 dollars.

Our minimum cost for 2012 jail operations at the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office was $492,258.00. There are several other additional costs which would be very time consuming to determine an exact dollar figure. Another factor is lost revenue from holding inmates for Linn County and the City of Chillicothe amounts to about $86,000.

Other factors not calculated in the price if we had continued jail operations in Livingston County are the costs for necessary repairs to the facility, adding a minimum of 5 full time detention officers, and costs of being in compliance with the Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act beginning in August 2013.

Please understand that historically our office was only permitted to employ a total of 5 full time detention officers and 1 part time position to work the jail; which typically meant 1 detention officer would be on duty with as many as 76 people in custody at a time but a more common daily count being around 42 people in custody. A well trained and experienced detention officer could properly book in a new and cooperative detainee in about 35-45 minutes. We are required to document everything that person has been arrested for, medical screening, mental health screening, property inventory, money security, determine criminal history, determine custody level/housing, assign jail attire and bedding, finger print, retina scan, notify all respective courts and attorneys of custody, and provide detailed documentation for our jail management system. Because of our extensive documentation we have a ve ry low rate of law suits from detainees as compared to other counties. And for the few litigation cases filed we have been a part of we had ample documentation and evidence to support our policies and procedures.

Detainees are people that require food at least 3 times a day (more often for some with medical issues or pregnancy), often need medical/dental/mental health care, frequent to constant supervision, require extensive documentation, and many choose to be disruptive and/or harass staff. Commonly detainees have problems with others because of their criminal charge, gang affiliation, race, religion, or other issues such as personal habits which require additional attention from staff.

The Law Enforcement Sales Tax (LEST) for Livingston County is tax money which is split between the Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff’s Office, Jail, County Coroner, and Juvenile Office. The projected revenues from this for 2013 were estimated by the County Commission to be $469,998 dollars which is not enough money to fund all the above offices in addition to the jail operations. In order to fix our needs we would be required to ask our citizens for more tax money.

A check with the Supervision Services frequently used by the Livingston County Judges for pre-trial detainees shows that for June 2013 they have been supervising 53 people on bond from Livingston County cases which are pending in local Courts.

One variable Livingston County, the sheriff, prosecutor, and judges have no control over is the number of people who decide to make bad life choices and break the laws in Missouri. Bad actions often have bad consequences.

I believe there is good and bad in everything but based on the current figures provided by the county clerk, we are saving Livingston County a fair amount of tax money by housing the detainees at the Daviess Dekalb County Regional Jail (DDCRJ). We transport very few prisoners as DDCRJ does the vast majority of transporting by contract. It is true there is a potential to be exceed our jail budget but that issue is a battle we have dealt with every year.

Since closing the jail we have been able to better utilize our sworn officers in areas of criminal investigations, patrol and more frequent patrol in problem areas, assisting the public, and doing business as we should. We have been able to shift our schedules to add more patrol deputies on the night and weekend shifts in order to better focus on stealing and other rural crimes in the 538 square miles we cover. By having a properly staffed jail facility at DDCRJ we are able to let them attend to detainees so we can focus on law enforcement work and serving our citizens instead of catering to detainees.

To simply ask if we like having the jail 60 miles away the answer is “No”, but it is your money we are spending and I believe we should do so both frugal and wise.

We are receiving positive feedback from many people on the frequency they see our staff and turnaround time in resolving many complaints.

Thank you for reading this “Message from the Sheriff”.