McCracken County Jail Cost

For three years, the McCracken County Fiscal Court has studied the revenue and expenses associated with running the McCracken County Regional Jail (Jail). [1] Historically, the Jail has been a huge cost to McCracken County. Below is a table and graph demonstrating the historic cost of operating the Jail. The financial loss of the Jail for the last 10 years has a range of 2.1 million dollars to 3.4 million dollars.

Graph

I am convinced that the Jail loss can be decreased by more communication and education about when jail costs are paid by the Commonwealth of Kentucky (State) as opposed to being paid by our local government. Jailer David Knight has been very helpful to the Fiscal Court in this analysis. I assure you the problem I want to discuss cannot be solved by a jailer. The problem can be mitigated by a combination of public officials working together on a continual basis.

Misdemeanors are minor offenses. “Misdemeanor incarceration” is always a local government expense. Felonies are more serious offenses. “Felony incarceration” is a State expense but only after the date of the sentencing. All pretrial confinement, whether it be for a misdemeanor or a felony, is paid for by local government dollars. Again, any confinement which occurs after the sentencing date for a felony offense is paid for by the State.

Below is a “pretrial incarceration scenario” which happened during fiscal year 2018-2019. [2] It is followed by an alternative scenario which our community could have followed and which would have eliminated the cost of the pretrial confinement to our local government.

Confinement Option A (What we did.)

  1. On December 14, 2018, a Marshall County resident (hereinafter referred to as “Timmy the Thief”) was arrested for stealing in McCracken County and his bail bond was set for $1,000.00.
  2. Timmy did not have enough money to post the pretrial bond and he stayed incarcerated in a pretrial status until his sentencing date.
  3. On April 18, 2019, Timmy pled guilty to felony theft and was sentenced to three years in state prison.
  4. Timmy was given jail credit for serving 125 days of pretrial confinement.
  5. The McCracken County Fiscal Court incurred the cost of 125 days of pretrial confinement at $40.00 a day, totaling $5,000.00.
  6. In addition, because the Timmy occupied a bed in our Jail for 125 days, it reduced the available beds to use in the State sponsored “D Felony” program.
  7. The State sponsored “D Felony” program pays the County $31.00 a day to house “D Felony” State inmates. “D felonies” are the least serious offenses in the felony categories.
  8. In other words, McCracken County lost the opportunity to earn revenue of $3,875.00 because Timmy’s bed was not available for sale to the State for 125 days.
  9. The total cost of Timmy’s pretrial confinement to McCracken County was $8,875.00.

Confinement Option B (What we could have done.)

  1. On December 14, 2018, Timmy the Thief is arrested for stealing in McCracken County and his bail bond is set for $1,000.00.
  2. A bond review occurs on December 26, 2018 in which a McCracken County District Judge applies the KRS 431.066(5)(a) bail credit at $100.00 a day to allow Timmy to exit pretrial confinement. [3]
  3. We require Timmy to return to court where he will eventually plead guilty for the same 3 year sentence and serve the same number of days in prison. However in this scenario Timmy serves his “prison time” after the day of sentencing. [4]
  4. In this scenario the County makes $3,565.00 and Timmy serves the same number of days in prison.

To summarize, our community can accomplish the same punishment for “Timmy the Thief” in two different ways. One way causes a $9,000.00 loss and the other way creates a $3,600.00 gain.

I believe this type of case is representative of many cases in McCracken County. I believe the key to solving this problem is making sure the McCracken County District Court Judges understand the “local costs” of pretrial confinement. I am in no way suggesting that the sentence for the “Marshall County Thief” should have been any less than three years. He should absolutely serve his three year sentence, but he should do so in a manner that allows the State to pay for the incarceration and eliminates the loss to county government.

I believe the McCracken County District Judges need the assistance of the McCracken County Attorney’s Office and the Jailer’s Office to “look for” and monitor situations similar to the above situation so that the District Court Judges will be in a position to help reduce the local cost of our jail.

[1] The McCracken County Regional Jail has a capacity of 470 inmates.

[2] See McCracken County Criminal Indictment 18-CR-845.

[3] KRS 431.66(5)(a) except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subjection, regardless of the amount of the bail set, the court shall permit the defendant a credit of one hundred dollars ($100.00) per pay as a payment toward the amount of the bail set for each day or portion of a day that the defendant remains in jail prior to trial. Upon the service of sufficient days in jail to have sufficient credit to satisfy the bail, the defendant shall be released from jail on the condition specified in this section in this chapter.

[4] In his pretrial assessment, Timmy was assessed as low risk for violence and moderate risk for failing to return to court.

By | 2022-04-22T19:25:10+00:00 April 22nd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Eddie Jones is a practicing attorney in Paducah, Kentucky at the law firm of Boehl Stopher & Graves and also serves as a County Commissioner in his community of McCracken County, Kentucky. His background includes service in the United States Army and an undergraduate degree in Public Administration from Evangel University along with a Law Degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Eddie is interested in working to make Paducah and McCracken County more sustainable through bikeable/walkable neighborhoods, tourism including sports tourism, and the development of public/private partnerships including a focused, transparent plan for regional economic development.

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