Sedgwick County inmates being moved to closer jails

File photo of inmates at the Sedgwick County Jail in Wichita.
File photo of inmates at the Sedgwick County Jail in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle

Sedgwick County inmates being held in out-of-county jails are being moved to closer facilities to save a projected $400,000 a year, a sheriff’s official said Wednesday.

The immediate change involves consolidating inmates who have been held in 18 other jails into four jails closer to Sedgwick County, Undersheriff Danny Bardezbain said. Those four closer facilities are in Butler, Chase, Cowley and Sumner counties. The sheriff’s office probably will add other facilities to those, Bardezbain said.

As of Wednesday, 1,091 inmates were being held in the county jail in downtown Wichita, and because of space limitations, 252 inmates were being held elsewhere.

Inmates had been housed in facilities as far away as the Colorado state line and the southeastern corner of the state. In some cases, it meant 550-mile round trips and deputies having to drive up to 14 hours in a day.

The main purpose in Sheriff Jeff Easter’s change is to save money by reducing fuel and vehicle maintenance costs and trimming overtime for deputies transporting inmates, Bardezbain said.

It will result in inmates being closer to court, which is helpful when a judge might need to see them on short notice, and defense attorneys will have better access to their clients, he said.

The change will entail limits on how much and how many items, such as hygiene products, inmates can take with them to out-of-county jails and what they can bring back. It will speed up the time needed to search inmates and will cut down on contraband coming into the local jail, Bardezbain said. Personal items can be used to hide contraband.

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