WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 2017
-Proclamation declaring April 2017 as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” (Rachel Gadd-Nelson)
-Proclamation declaring April as “Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Month” (Jenn Preston)
(1) (a) Consider approval of Commission Orders; and
(b) Consider approval to Solicit Bids for Highway De-Icing Salt (Keith Browning); and
(c) Consider approval of resolution amending the location of a portion of N500 Road (Michael Kelly).
(2) Presentation of Jail population issues (Sheriff McGovern)- No backup
(3) (a)Consider approval of Accounts Payable (if necessary)
-MPO Bicycle Advisory Committee (2) positions
-Board of Zoning Appeals (1) position 10/16
-Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority Board (1) position 06/17
-Metropolitan Planning Commission – Positions (2) 05/17
(c) Public Comment
April 5, 2017
Gaughan called the regular meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 with all members present.
Gaughan moved to approve a proclamation declaring April as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.” Motion was seconded by Thellman and carried 3-0.
Gaughan moved to affirm April as “Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month in Douglas County. Motion was seconded by Derusseau and carried 3-0.
CONSENT AGENDA 04-05-17
Gaughan moved approval of the following Consent Agenda:
► Solicit bids for supply of highway de-icing salt for the 2017-2018 winter storm season; and
► Resolution 17-11 formally amending Douglas County Road Records for a portion of N500 Road.
Motion was seconded by Derusseau and carried 3-0.
PRESENTATION ON JAIL POPULATON 04-05-17
Ken McGovern, Douglas County Sheriff; and Gary Bunting, Undersheriff, made a presentation to the County Commission on jail population issues.
Some of the issues include:
Spacing Needs for a long-term basis
- $1.3 million was spent in 2016 for housing inmates out of county.
- Current renovations and expansion plan is adequate for women, special management and pre-classification.
- Deficient for male medium and minimum classifications.
An additional 126 bed are needed.
In the Women’s housing unit
- Up to 40% of women have been housed out of county.
- All women classifications are currently housed in the same 28 bed unit.
- Need for additional classification units to effectively manage.
- Currently housed in a maximum classification environment, 14 beds available.
- There is a need for a more therapeutic environment.
- The design ideas came from tours of other facilities.
The classification for men occur in a medium security pod
- Disrupts medium housing unit.
- Results in persons with different classifications being housed together.
- Places other inmates and staff at risk.
- Does not provide health, mental health or security staff to the space to study behavior.
According to Vera Institute 2013 / 2014 data, the nation’s lowest incarceration rate was 1.2 persons per 1,000 residents. Douglas County’s rate was 1.63 persons per 1,000 residents. We are far below the state and national average. After looking at the ‘Point in Time Count’ provided by staff, which analyzed the current jail population compared to the proposed 10-20 year rate, the analysis put Douglas County in a potential crisis situation for inmate available space and staffing. Other counties are experiencing the same issues. Our best behaved inmates are housed out of county as other counties will not take problem persons. Many are being sent back due to lack of space in other counties. Laws exist regulating the manner in which inmates are housed. Overcrowding challenges cause stressors on families, correctional staff, creates staff turnovers and lessens the safety and security of staff and inmates.
Some of the driving forces that increase the number of local jail stays include: The mandatory sentencing guidelines; Felony DWIs now have to serve their one-year sentence in county jails; the State of Kansas increased the felony speed trials days from 90 days to 150 days not including county trial extensions; defense attorney hourly rates have been reduced which is making it difficult to employ defense attorneys for felony cases; and also future legislature changes are anticipated to reduce the burden on the state prison system which will lead to higher incarceration rates for county jails.
K.S.A. 19-901 and K.S.A. 19-1930 statutes govern the necessity for a jail and receiving prisoners. Law enforcement officers are required to bring offenders to the County jail, without exception.
Over the past 16 years, the Board of County Commissioners and the Sheriff’s Office have worked together to reduce the jail population. In 2001 Bert Nash began working with inmates in the jail facility. Two full-time employees were added, one to provide clinical service and the other to provide case management services to inmates; Two additional full-time staff are employed by grant to provide diversion services for inmates with serious mental illnesses, veterans and women; One part-time staff member provides supervision for clinical and case management services; and one part-time APRN provides diagnosis and prescription service and is supervised by a psychiatrist.
In 2007, the BOCC and Sheriff’s Office began the implementation of a Re-Entry Team. In 2011 the Re-Entry began call notifications to remind persons of upcoming court dates to reduce the number of failures to appear for court. The Re-Entry program has been recognized nationally and our staff provides guidance to other counties within the state for their own implementation of Re-Entry programs. Currently four employees are dedicated to administration, case management and program coordination and over 60 difference programs are currently offered to our inmates. Many are focused on reducing recidivism. In 2014, the Re-Entry Program began screening for pre-trial release. In 2016 the County Commission funded: three full-time personnel dedicated to pre-trial release screening and management; funded personnel to provide services for the behavior health court; funded a Criminal Justice Coordinator to collaborate with other key players within the justice system; and formed the CJCC council. In 2017, Douglas County was recognized as a best practice site for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the Stepping-Up Initiative Category.
Sheriff McGovern’s recommendation to the Board is to place the renovation and expansion plan as priority given the potential crisis that could arise with a delay; because a renovation/expansion would take three years to open from the date it is approved, McGovern asked the County develop an adequate renovation and expansion plan that will sustain the County for a long-term basis.
Thellman confirmed that the Sheriff is having trouble finding housing outside of the county because other jails are full and have staff shortage issues. The Sheriff’s staff has to call farther and farther away to find housing, which makes it difficult for families to visit and for attorney accessibility.
Derusseau asked if the $1.3 million the County is spending on outsourcing inmates includes staff time. McGovern replied staff time costs an additional $250,000. The $1.3 million includes out of county housing costs, staff time, fuel, and vehicles. He is predicting 2017 will cost $1.5 million in outsourcing with the options being further away. Inmates that are shipped out lose the benefit of the Reentry program.
The Board congratulated the Sheriff and staff on their efforts with the Behavior Health Court and being continually recognized for the Re-Entry Program.
Gaughan opened the item for public comment.
Barbara Palmer, Justice Matters, said she is proud of our staff at Douglas County. She feels we need to determine why there is a growth in the jail and expand services in the community. She suggested increasing judges, transitional housing for women of violence, substance assistance and a robust court reminder system instead of expanding the jail. Palmer said she was disappointed that the County Commissioners did not attend the Nehemiah Assembly but she was pleased with the hiring of Robert Bieniecki as CJCC Coordinator, hiring an analyst and Dr. Allen Beck. Palmer provided comment cards to the Commissioners from the Nehemiah Assembly.
Gaughan stated he wants to make sure anyone who has a comment on the Sheriff’s presentation has the opportunity to speak. There will be an opportunity for other comments.
Jesse Brinson, Justice Matters, stated he is concerned about those who are underprivileged. He said the majority of people in our community are white and white Americans don’t see what the underprivileged see and what they experience. He asked what the Sheriff is doing to prepare kids from being out of the incarceration system. He feels you only get services if you are in jail. He again asked what the Sheriff is doing now to keep people out of jail.
Thellman stated she appreciated the presentation today and commended the Sheriff and staff that run the jail on their incredible patience with this Commission for taking time to listen to the community who has asked us to develop jail alternatives and diversion programs, some of which were already operational but have been boosted. While efforts are being made to address these needs, staff is still taking care of a jail population. This is stressful to employees in an overcrowded situation. Thellman said she wants to acknowledge the dedicated service, extreme competence and sensitivity to this Commission and this community; and acknowledge that this Commission has taken a long time to try and build even better programs on top of good programs, and willing to hire professionals in the field to try to solve the problem of overcrowding all while the price of construction is going up every day. At the same time human costs go up. She is grateful for staff’s patience while we are trying to find the right scale, the right numbers and the right plan. We are dedicated to getting to a solution.
Derusseau said she also thanks the Sheriff and staff. We are fortunate to live in this community. The Sheriff and staff have been proactive since 2001 trying to keep people out of jail, and our programs are light years ahead of other communities and people need to realize that. Some of the things we are being asked to do would be steps backwards. Our Re-Entry Program is nationally recognized and has been honored as a “Best Practice” as we’ve been asked to present to jails around the country. Derusseau said “we have one of the lowest incarceration rates, not only in the state of Kansas, but in the United States, so thank you.”
Gaughan also thanked the Sheriff and staff. He is glad you referenced the County data. In the past we’ve been compared to Saline County and our incarceration rate is a quarter of theirs; we’ve been compared to Bear County and our incarceration is half their rate; we’ve been compared to Oklahoma County and our incarceration rate is on-third of their rate. All of that obscures that there are things we want to improve on; the pretrial release program has occupied our time this year. Our Behavior Health Court is up and running, the house arrest program is in progress with Judge Kittel on board, Dr. Beck is reviewing the population analysis; we are working with KU Consultants and working on a crisis center; we have the LPD upcoming co-responder program and work of CJCC workgroups; we have a Data Analyst helping to navigate the system across the county; and we’ve partnered with Johnson County with My Resource Connection for an opportunity to work with community partners. There are a lot of things on the agenda we need to be successful in so we know what we need on the jail expansion. We don’t want to be back here in five years. We need to resolve this issue. We cost the County 1.3 million last year.
Gaughan said he wanted to finish up the weekly County business and will reopen for public comment.
ACCOUNTS PAYABLE 04-05-17
Gaughan moved to approve accounts payable in the amount of $881,682.302 to be paid on 04/06/17. Motion was seconded by Derusseau and carried 3-0.
PUBLIC COMMENT 04-05-17
Thellman said she would like to respond to Mr. Brinson’s question of ‘are we don’t anything for the youth and those vulnerable;’ and remind him that he is familiar with the County budget and we spend almost as much money on our jail services, $6-$7 million in socials services which includes mental health care for youth and counselors in most schools across the county in junior and high schools and many grade schools.
Brinson said he comments were directed to the Sheriff and his responsibility.
Derusseau stated she wanted to make clear she did not receive an invitation to the Nehemiah Assembly. What she received was a save the date which specifically noted she had not been the one chosen to attend the event. She noted the save the date read “Our research committee is still determining at this time who from Douglas County government would be best to speak. In the event we believe your presence would be important, we will meet with you.”
Angie Blair, 1922 Barker Avenue, stated she recalls Derusseau being personally invited to the Nehemiah Action Assembly during a candidate forum meeting Derusseau attended, and Derusseau stating she had a prior commitment for that date. Derusseau added she was told it was expected of her to change her plans. She did not feel that was an invitation.
Gaughan said he apologized to Blair for closing down the 03/15/17 meeting early due to a person commitment he had at 6 p.m. Blair responded by thanking Gaughan for taking the time to listen to her comments over the phone.
Gaughan thanked all those who attended the Sheriff’s presentation. He feels it is an important item to our community. Half of those in the public heard the full presentation and the other half heard only a portion as they come in during the middle of the update. Gaughan said he hopes everyone has an opportunity to discuss the information with their friends and neighbors.
Gaughan moved to adjourn the meeting.
Derusseau stated she would also like to talk about how Douglas County was misrepresented by Justice Matters’ leadership based on emails she received. Commissioners get invited to a lot of meetings and events. No other organization has maliciously misrepresented Douglas County like this organization. She feels it’s a sad way to build a working relationship by creating mistrust between the public and the County by telling your organization the County will not listen, especially after all the work that has been done and money spent by the County in an effort to approve mental health opportunities and cut down on incarcerations. Derusseau said she was speaking only for herself, but any future meeting with Justice Matters’ leadership going forward will be in this room, the County Commission Chamber, in public forum with a public record.
Blair stated she felt she was “shushed” at the 03/15/17 County Commission meeting and didn’t get a chance to speak her mind. She feels there is a dialogue created by Justice Matters that is unnerving. She feels we all have the same goals in mind.
The motion to adjourn was seconded by Thellman and carried 3-0.
Mike Gaughan, Chair Nancy Thellman, Vice-Chair
Jamie Shew, County Clerk Michelle Derusseau, Member