Special jail report to the Pulaski County Commission
By: Sheriff J.B. King
Posted: Monday, March 23, 2009 2:40 pm
Gentlemen of the Pulaski County Commission, it has come to my attention that the property known as the “Jim’s Supermarket complex” which is located right across the street from the Pulaski County Courthouse will open for sale later this year. A better location for a new Pulaski County Jail could not be found.
As we all know, by Missouri statute the county jail must be located within the seat of government for the county. The only exception would be the regional jail statute where two or more counties build a joint jail at a location they select. Since every county that surrounds us except Maries County has passed a sales tax or bond issue and has already built a new jail, the regional concept would probably not work for us. Therefore our only option would be to accept the challenge alone.
At present we normally have 60 to 65 inmates on our jail list every day. We can only house 30 of them here in our jail. The others are sent to other jails such as the Dixon City Jail and the Miller County or Phelps County jails. Our daily payment to house inmates is $35 per day per inmate. Rather than speculate as to what this cost would be each day, I will simply cite the exact yearly payment for the last eight years that we have already paid out to other jails.
Inmate Board Bill for Pulaski County Year 2001: $246,816.00 Year 2002: $244,324.00 Year 2003: $344,741.00 Year 2004: $363,656.00 Year 2005: $242,392.00 Year 2006: $379,023.00 Year 2007: $357,770.00 Year 2008: $419,426.00
During the past eight years, the taxpayers of Pulaski County have paid out $2,598,148 for inmate board to other agencies to house our inmates. And that is only part of the cost involved. The round trip to the Miller County Jail, for example, is 74.8 miles of gasoline expense and deputy salary time. We usually make the trip at least four times each week. The bottom line here is that the Pulaski County taxpayers fund a lot of extra expense because we do not have our own full-capacity county jail.
The future of Pulaski County should be one of continued growth due to the presence of Fort Leonard Wood and the local desire to bring in additional industry. Therefore the crime rate will continue to increase and the demand for more jail space will increase. During the past several years, the number of calls for service received by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office has greatly increased. While not every call leads to a criminal case, the sheer increase in the numbers gives a clear indication of the potential need the future could bring.
Calls for Service Count Year 2004: 3,910 Year 2005: 5,114 Year 2006: 7,212 Year 2007: 9,226 Year 2008: 10,593
At this time the Fort Leonard Wood authorities must house inmates in their custody at Fort Knox in Kentucky or Fort Leavenworth in Kansas while they await trial on military charges. Surely we could take advantage of the special interest Rep. Ike Skelton has in our county and work out some type of inmate housing agreement for military detainees in a new Pulaski County Jail that was built to federal specifications. For that matter, since the deputies of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office are the first line of defense surrounding Fort Leonard Wood, there may well be other forms of special assistance that the federal government could offer to us as another way to bolster the security of Fort Leonard Wood. This would clearly be an avenue of interest to pursue.
At this time, there are several major jail construction companies that have indicated an interest to me at our Missouri sheriffs’ conferences in building a new jail here in Pulaski County. Each company has stressed the fact that a new jail is a two- or three-year project. Each company has stressed the fact that the cost of building materials continues to rise and a delay of several years in starting a new project will only serve to increase the final cost. Each company has stressed the fact that a no-frills practical jail facility could be constructed at a reasonable cost.
With the current political attitude in Washington, D.C., that federal dollars must be pumped into the state and local governmental entities to jump start the economy, we should be able to find grants and other programs such as low-cost infrastructure loans that could assist Pulaski County in the construction of a new jail.
The time has come for the members of the Pulaski County Commission to step forward and begin the process that will end with a new Pulaski County Jail. You are the only people who can make this new jail appear on the courthouse square. The future will only bring increased expense and the need for more jail space.