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Sedgwick County sheriff: Jail consultant's e-mail 'deceptive'

Sedgwick County Sheriff Robert Hinshaw says a jail consultant's e-mail telling commissioners that he would not share information was "deceptive."

He e-mailed commissioners about his concern Tuesday, a day before commissioners were to vote on whether to allow Justice Concepts Inc. to continue its work on jail overcrowding and pay it about $46,167 remaining on its $124,616 contract.

Hinshaw pointed to a Sept. 23 e-mail The Wichita Eagle obtained in which consultant Nancy Insco told commissioners Kelly Parks and Gwen Welshimer "the sheriff, despite his vow to work with me, has now returned to his allegiance with the remainder of the staff. He will not now communicate with me, nor has not shared his presentation (9/15) with me nor the new recent budget request."

Hinshaw said he had not seen that e-mail until The Eagle's Web site, www.kansas.com, published it online.

The same day she wrote commissioners, Insco had e-mailed Hinshaw a note with the subject line "Working together?" and said she was "perplexed as to your approach to bring attention to the numbers in the jail. In that regard, I finally received a copy of your presentation at the (commission) meeting from Bob Lamkey."

Lamkey is the county's director of public safety.

Hinshaw answered her Sept. 24, not realizing that she had e-mailed commissioners, noting that his presentation had been sent to her Sept. 16, the day after he made it.

He told her that to say she "finally" had received a copy of his presentation was a "mischaracterization."

After learning about her e-mail to Parks and Welshimer, Hinshaw sent Insco an e-mail April 6 pointing out the timing of the September e-mails and said "in my response of the 24th, I simply called this a mischaracterization of the facts. In light of the e-mail you sent to the commissioners, I now would label it deceptive. There are only two reasons you would do this — either to curry favor or to drive a wedge between local leaders. Which is it? Or am I missing a third possibility?"

Tuesday, he sent an e-mail to commissioners questioning why she would tell two commissioners she did not have a presentation that had been sent to her a week before.

Hinshaw told commissioners that between April 6 and Monday night, he left four voicemail messages for Insco, e-mails and text messages.

He said he received an e-mail from Insco on Monday indicating she would call him later and had not wanted to bother him during the weekend.

The sheriff had not heard from her as of Tuesday evening.

The Eagle could not reach Insco on Tuesday. A woman who answered a phone number for Insco said she was in West Virginia.

Justice Concepts' 10-month contract with the county expired in June, and its consultants are seeking to finish some of their work, not including their main goal of reducing the jail's population by 25 percent.

Commissioner Dave Unruh said Hinshaw's concerns dovetailed with his own.

"I think that e-mail illustrates a serious problem in her methodology. I trust our sheriff's perspective and recap of the information. I don't think the approach that the consultant took in communicating is helpful," Unruh said.

He said it plus the tone of e-mails Insco wrote to Parks, Welshimer and other officials that The Wichita Eagle obtained through an open records request reinforced his desire to end the county's relationship with Justice Concepts.

Welshimer, who has been Insco's biggest supporter, said she would make a statement today.

The e-mails include ones in which Insco called a county official "Mr. CYA" and used language such as "screw us over." CYA is an abbreviation for "cover your ass."

The county has paid Justice Concepts $78,449 of its original contract. 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.

Commissioner Tim Norton recently said getting those reports would be "like looking at the baseball statistics of a year or two years ago. It doesn't matter any more."

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