The Linn County jail has exceeded expectations as a source of revenue for Linn County in 2023. (Journal file photo)
By Charlene Sims, Journal staff
MOUND CITY – At only seven months into the 12-month budget for 2023, the Linn County jail is within $10,400 of meeting its expected annual income of a half million dollars.
On Monday, July 24, Linn County Sheriff Kevin Friend told the Linn County commissioners that people had been contacting him because they did not think the numbers on the monthly report matched what he reported billing.
He explained that people did not understand how the inmate housing worked. It takes a month or so to be paid for invoices sent out now. And the reports as being received were billed several weeks before.
He gave the example of the past week, which will not be billed until the end of the month. The past week’s income for housing inmates is:
Thirteen federal inmates $8,008
Wyandotte County inmates 9,922
Other counties and cities 630
In addition the sheriff’s office will receive about $4,000 to $5,000 for transportation. However, none of that will be billed until the end of the month and will come into the county treasurer’s office at different times.
Friend told the commissioners that because Wyandotte County bills had to go first to the county then to the consolidated government then back to the county, it sometimes takes 30 to 40 days before Linn County receives the money. He did point out that both Wyandotte County and the U. S. Marshall’s Service paid in a timely manner.
Friend said that he had been asked by several people where the money goes. He explained to them that 100% of it went directly to Linn County’s general fund. He said when he sent a bill he notified County Treasurer Janet Kleweno that it would be coming in and she notifies him when it is received.
Friend said the only place that owes them money is the State of Texas in the amount of about $1,800.
“Some folks just don’t want to believe (the jail) is working,” said Friend.
County Clerk David Lamb told the commissioners that when the 2023 budget was developed it projected that the income for the jail for the entire year would be $500,000. Lamb said that as of July 12, 2023, the income was already nearly $480,600.
Friend said that when he worked on the budget for this year, he was hoping it would get to $500,000 and now it is projected to much surpass that.
Friend also told the commissioners that people questioned his budget, particularly the $150,000-per-month utility budget. He pointed out that that budget for the 44,000-square-foot building also covered the court and prosecutor’s utilities, which no longer came out of their budgets.
Friend reported that he had done two interviews the past week for employees to work in the jail and had three more interviews set up for Wednesday. He said that right now the jail was four short from being fully staffed and he felt that advertising and recruiting would allow him to have a pool to choose from in December.
He informed that commissioners that during the summer the school resource officers (SRO) had been very helpful when the staff was short at the jail.
Friend told the commissioners that there was a lot of hope in the system right now that jails could help counties bring some money in rather than being a drain on the county.
Commissioner Jim Johnson asked Friend about people who get released from the jail and hit up people at the gas station.
Friend told Johnson that only local people were released directly from the jail. The contract with Wyandotte County, the U. S. Marshal’s service and other counties stipulate that their inmates will be taken back to their facilities to be released. Transportation back is paid for by those entities.
He explained that if a person who had been in jail was on a Linn County warrant or was being jailed for one of the Linn County municipalities, they were released from the front door or the jail.
“For 155 years that is the way it has been,” said Friend, adding that his office often receives calls about released prisoners hanging around the Mound City area.
“I can tell you Friday evening I had an individual get released. We attempted to call his son to come get him. He didn’t want that. All he wanted to do was to get out the front door and he did.
“And within 20 minutes, we had calls on him walking down 52 highway. We went out and checked on him, he didn’t want our help. The last thing he wants is the sheriff’s office trying to help him after he’s been in jail for 486 days.
“So all he wants to do is get out. He wants freedom, and there’s nothing I can really do to affect his freedom at that point. Because the only thing that would be is a violation of his civil rights or civil liberties in that situation, and I can’t take that away from him.”
Johnson said this has been brought to his attention and he’s seen that the first place they hit is the gas station.
Friend agreed and added the gas station or Dollar General and they camp in the parking lot there for two or three days. He said that had happened recently.
Friend said that a woman had recently contacted him about starting some sort of aftercare organization and he thought that was a good idea because the people being released might accept that help.
Friend reiterated, “But the last thing they want to do is to get back in a patrol car to even ride home over west of Pleasanton. He was walking through fields and timber. We had loads of reports about him, but I cannot affect his liberty at this point.
“That’s the last thing people want is help. They just want freedom. I can’t affect their liberty. I can’t drive them somewhere else. We can’t tie them up and haul them to a county line.”