Jail Outboarding Hits Record Low For Jefferson County

Jail Outboarding Hits Record Low For Jefferson County

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It was just a few years ago when Jefferson County spent close $2 million in a single year to outboard prisoners.  Today, that cost is virtually zero.

"We are dramatically reduced in the jail for population right now." said Lt. Kristopher Spencer, jail administrator.

Spencer is in charge of the jail and the population he's speaking about is the number of inmates locked up.  Not just inmates there, but ones the county sends to other jails, when these cells fill up.   After years of outboarding inmates, it's now a different story.

Since last November, Jefferson County has sent only one inmate to another jail. It's a declining trend seen over the last few years.

Spencer attributes it to the Raise The Age initiative and more people being released without bail.

County Legislator Phil Reed says the county started saving after it invested in the jail, converting a recreation space into a dormitory in 2015, allowing the jail to house more inmates.

How much money is the county saving?   Before building the dorm, in 2014, Jefferson County spent $1.7 million transporting and housing inmates in other facilities.  

After the dorm, in 2015, that cost dropped to $600,000.   Fast forward to last year - the cost was more than $260,000.

Reed says he's happy the county renovated existing space back then instead of what other people wanted to do - spend up to $18 million  to put an addition onto the jail.

"It was proven right out the gate that the dormitory configuration worked. The pressure on the system was greatly eased and we didn't need to go to the taxpayers for needless construction," said Reed.

Officials think the declining trend will continue now that cash bail will be eliminated for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.

"Our need to outboard will not be there. It's going to save overtime for officers. It's going to keep inmates and officers off the road. It's going to save the taxpayers money," said Reed.

Spencer says only time will tell if the lack of cash bail will continue the trend long-term, because people arrested may not initially be held in jail, but they could be after sentencing. 

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