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Justice Concepts appears to have support to continue work on jail issues

A majority of Sedgwick County commissioners appear ready to support jail consultant Justice Concepts Inc. finishing parts of its original $124,616 contract.

The county hired Justice Concepts in 2008 to identify ways to reduce the inmate population at the Sedgwick County Jail. Its contract expired June 4, 2009, and the county has yet to receive written recommendations. The consultant also didn’t meet its goal of reducing the jail’s population by 25 percent.

So far, the county has paid Justice Concepts $78,449 of its original contract plus about $21,300 for work deemed outside the contract. Commissioners agreed to pay Justice Concepts an additional $28,511 last year, but the county has withheld $7,200 of that amount pending reports about use of vacated Kansas Department of Corrections facilities.

Commissioners Gwen Welshimer, Kelly Parks and Karl Peterjohn said they support letting Justice Concepts fulfill its contract.

Commissioners Dave Unruh and Tim Norton voiced concerns about Justice Concepts failing to do its job.

Unruh said Justice Concepts failed to identify a backlog of journal entries as a problem for the county. The Eagle reported in January that the reports — required before an inmate sentenced to prison can be moved from the jail to prison — were taking 60 to 90 days to complete when the same reports were taking an average 18 days in Johnson County.

“It was discovered by a Wichita Eagle reporter,” Unruh said of the journal entry backlog.

Commissioner Kelly Parks countered that Justice Concepts knew about the problem but didn’t want to “torque off” criminal justice officials by mentioning it.

Read more about the story in Wednesday’s Eagle.