The Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office has significantly cut the time it takes to complete a report required before a jail inmate can be transferred to state prison.
That report was taking an average of six weeks for the District Attorney's Office to complete and 60 to 90 days before reaching the jail, The Eagle reported last month. In Johnson County, the reports take an average 18 days to process, a judge there said.
The backlog affected the average length of stay in the jail, which is struggling with overcrowding, Sheriff Robert Hinshaw said.
Roughly 7 percent of the jail's population in December was waiting for paperwork — reports called journal entries — to be completed so the inmates could be transferred to prison.
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It costs taxpayers $65.91 a day to keep someone in the county jail. The cost is lower for Sedgwick County inmates being held in other counties' jails.
Journal entries for inmates headed to prison now take about a week to complete, Deputy District Attorney Ann Swegle said Thursday. Journal entries recap a case and include a defendant's criminal history and how much time he or she has served in jail.
"It's great to see them coming in in the numbers we have now," Hinshaw said Thursday.
Two full-time employees work in the District Attorney's Office to complete journal entries. Swegle said a third person recently was hired to "be of assistance in this." She said the position had been open.
Swegle said prosecutors always strive to complete journal entries as soon as possible.
"We can't always achieve it," she said. "Sometimes there is some fluctuation in the time to get them done."
After The Eagle reported the backlog of journal entries, Sedgwick County District Chief Judge James Fleetwood asked for the turnaround time to be tracked and said he would tell the district's 28 judges to order the District Attorney's Office to expedite the paperwork for such inmates.
Last year, the District Attorney's Office handled 4,963 journal entries. Of those, 1,915 were for defendants headed to prison, and 3,048 were for defendants who had violated their probation.
Hinshaw, Swegle and others are meeting today to talk about ways to improve the time it takes to turn around journal entries. Swegle said the meeting will explore ways to improve the process and speed it up, "how each piece of the system is working."
Commissioner Dave Unruh, who served on the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, charged with finding ways to reduce the jail's population, said anything the county can do to reduce the jail's population is appreciated.
"I'm very pleased to hear that news and thankful that the district attorney has tried to correct this situation that isn't helpful and has speeded up the process," he said.