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Consultant for jail seeks more time on contract

Justice Concepts Inc., a consulting firm hired by Sedgwick County to reduce its jail population, has again asked for more time to complete its original contract, already 10 months overdue.

Bob Lamkey, director of public safety for the county, told commissioners this week that the consultants have submitted a plan to complete some tasks by April 30 and others by May 31.

The company no longer plans to try to reduce the jail's population by 25 percent, the goal in its initial $124,616 contract with the county.

E-mails between Justice Concepts and Lamkey show a growing pressure to get a firm date on completion of the contract. The work was originally supposed to be completed by last June.

In November, Justice Concepts requested an 18-month contract extension and asked for another $228,000. It withdrew its proposal in December and said it would work to finish its original contract.

In a Feb. 5 e-mail , consultant Nancy Insco estimated Justice Concepts could complete tasks by April 30.

Insco has pointed to a lack of cooperation and available data as problems affecting Justice Concepts' ability to fulfill its contract.

In a Feb. 19 e-mail to Lamkey, Insco said "valuable time has been lost in these past several weeks. There is much work to be continued, to the county's benefit. I am literally waiting to see if we can even proceed to complete the existing contracted scope of work and write a report. As everyone knows well, we currently have no authority to do anything."

She told Lamkey that she realized he could not move mountains "but perhaps you could strongly push. Perhaps even the manager (county manager William Buchanan) might find his way."

Insco has referred to numerous illnesses and surgeries in e-mails to county officials dating back to 2007. She also has referred to car accidents, a home repair emergency, a daughter who was missing for a few hours in a snowstorm and computer problems. She said she recently had pneumonia.

Commissioner Dave Unruh has expressed frustration with Justice Concepts' delays and has asked at several recent meetings when the board would decide whether to allow the consultants to finish parts of its original contract.

The county has paid Justice Concepts $78,449 of the contract it signed in August 2008. Commissioners agreed to pay Justice Concepts an additional $28,511 last year for work deemed outside the contract, but the county has withheld $7,200 of that amount pending reports about whether it would make sense to use former Kansas Department of Corrections facilities in Labette and Butler counties to house inmates.

At a June meeting, Insco said she had a copy of the Labette report on the hard drive of her computer at her office. The Eagle asked for a copy of the report; Insco declined to provide it.

The Labette and Butler reports remain outstanding. Insco said in a March 23 e-mail to Lamkey that they would be done by April 19.

In an e-mail he sent Monday, Lamkey told Insco and partner Allen Beck that "I was hoping to hear from you last week... so I could present a final schedule for (commissioners') consideration. What might a new date for a complete schedule be?"

In response, Insco said that Justice Concepts was in the process of "combining the schedule with some other charts and graphs, which we have developed. it has taken a bit longer, but it is a more comprehensive examination of what works need to be completed."

She then sent a two-page plan a couple hours later with May 31 as the deadline for most work.

A majority of commissioners — Kelly Parks, Karl Peterjohn and Gwen Welshimer — have indicated they would support allowing the consultants to finish some of their work.

But the commission has yet to vote to do so. Peterjohn noted that a car accident in which both consultants were involved affected their schedule.

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