Gage County has more inmates than the jail can handle, sometimes resulting in offenders being housed by facilities in up to seven different counties at a time.
Frequent transporting to and from several locations is a costly and confusing ritual, prompting the County Board of Supervisors to consider contracts with other jails to reserve a set number of beds for Gage County inmates.
One option is contracting with the jail in Washington County, Kans.
Sheriff Gus Gustafson presented a contract that would reserve 15 beds in the Kansas jail for Gage County inmates.
The initial agreement was to reserve 15 beds in the Washington County jail at cost of $50 per inmate per day. The agreement would cost $750 per day, or $273,750 per year.
“We’re kind of thinking out of the box on a few things,” Gustafson said. “I went to the neighbor to the south because they’ve been really good to work with. He was willing to do it for us for $50 we talked at that time.”
However after renegotiating, Gustafson said Washington County would house inmates for $45 per inmate, or $676 per day.
Terms of the proposal are similar to an agreement with Washington County last May, though that agreement only cost $35 per inmate per day. It did not guarantee beds for Gage County inmates and there have been instances where the jail was full, resulting in them being housed in other counties.
Another option discussed Wednesday was a similar deal with Dawson County. The jail in Lexington would also house inmates for $45 per day, but the proposal also includes a guarantee that the jail will send at least one transport van per week to Beatrice, a roughly 3 ½ hour drive.
Despite being further from Beatrice than Washington County, board member Gary Lytle said the included weekly transport may make it the better option, but stressed contracting for 15 beds may be excessive.
“I think we need to look at having some guaranteed beds just for the fact that our numbers are high,” he said. “I don’t believe the number is 15. I think we’re more in the ballpark of maybe 10 maximum. My thought is that we try and utilize Dawson County as much as we can.”
No action was taken by the County Board this week, and discussions will continue at future meetings.