Bourbon County Jail inmates are being sent to other counties, according to the Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center Administrator.
“The Bourbon County Jail will be farming out most, if not all, of their inmates to other counties in southeast Kansas,” said Major Bobby Reed in an email with the daily reports sent to news entities. “The facility is doing this because of staffing shortages.”
“Approximately 56 inmates out of 65 are being housed elsewhere,” Reed noted to fortscott.biz.”The cost (to the county) is $40 per day per inmate.”
That amounts to $2,240 per day in payments to other counties, by Bourbon County.
Yesterday six inmates were transferred to another county, according to today’s Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office report.
Inmate’s families are not being notified ahead of the transfers, due to security reasons, Reed said.
Staffing is at a critical point.
“I have 16 positions when fully staffed,” he said. “I have not been fully staffed in a long time. Twelve employees is the minimum to operate the jail 24/7. That is 3 per shift. Next Tuesday I will be down to 8 employees.”
Low wages are what seems to be making the employee retention critical.
“Starting Correctional officer’s make $12.50 per hour,” Reed said. “(Bourbon County) Correctional Officers can get pay increases through the rank structure and a sargent makes $13.80 per hour. I can not retain employees because of the low pay. Then the employees that I have are getting worked all the time and are getting burnt out then they are resigning.”
People making $12.50 per hour, 40 hours a week make $500 a week. $500 times 52 weeks in a year is $26,000.
“Money wise, that is a commissioner and finance question,” Reed said.
He said the county offers standard benefits of eye, health, dental , major medical, sick time and vacation.
“I can not make people apply and I can not make people work,” Reed said.
“In my opinion the solution is to increase the pay,” he said. “But to what, I don’t know. Agencies that start out at $15/hour are having issues retaining and hiring and agencies that start out at $17 are having the same issues.”
“Jails are being short staffed through out the nation…I know it is in Kansas,” Reed said. “I think we are the first county in Kansas that has had to drastically reduce our numbers of inmates because of staffing issues.”