The Cost of Crime: Part Three

By: Stuart Peck Email
By: Stuart Peck Email

A big concern in Kentucky is the state’s regional jail system. The number of inmates being housed in Kentucky jails is on the rise.

Because of the rising inmate populations, smaller counties have a hard time keeping costs down and funding levels up.

“Not only is Warren County a great place for business, a great place to live [and] so on, it’s also a great opportunity for crime,” said Jackie Strode, Warren County Jailer.

There are over 900 inmates in the Warren County Regional Jail alone as well as over 12,000 inmates incarcerated in Kentucky prisons statewide. Housing that many people that have been convicted and those who are still awaiting trial can really add up.

Some expenditures that go into the cost of housing an inmate include food, utilities and staff payroll. However the biggest expenditure in a jail or prison is the medical costs.

“Each inmate has their own problems they may have different medical conditions some may not have any medical conditions and it doesn’t cost anything. Some may have some serious illness you have to take care of and that’s why your medical costs increase,” said Ron Beck, deputy warden at the Green River Correctional Complex.

An idea that is being looked at in Kentucky would give control of regional jails to the state to try and keep the price of housing an inmate down.

“When you look at this people that are arrested they committed a crime that was past by the state legislature but yet we in Warren County are having to pay for that person,” Strode said.

Strode said the regional jail system in Kentucky is a better way to house criminals because it costs less to keep an inmate in a jail than in a prison.

“The jails in Kentucky are the best asset that the department of corrections has, we can house inmates at our jail for 50-percent to 25-percent less than it cost them,” Strode said.

Strode said even though someone may be serving a sentence in a prison or jail they can still work to repay tax payers for what has been spent.

“We do approximately 175,000 to 200,000 hours a year so if you just go at minimum wage you know that’s several $100,000 we save tax payers,” Strode said.

Beck said that a common mis-conception among tax payers is that tax dollars go toward inmate’s luxuries such as satellite TV, basketball goals and weight lifting equipment. Beck said inmates pay for their own recreation. Tax dollars only go to keep the prisoners inside the prison.

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