Archive for Monday, February 7, 2005

Baldwin may expand use of county jail

February 7, 2005

By Alicia Henrikson

NewsMWC.com

Douglas County commissioners considered a new contract today allowing the county jail to house people convicted in Baldwin's Municipal Court. Baldwin City Council members were to discuss the plan at their Monday night meeting.

The proposed contract would require Baldwin pay the county a daily fee of $44.56 per person held at the jail.

A decision to expand the types of cases tried in Baldwin means that city needs a place to hold people convicted of misdemeanor offenses.

People arrested in Baldwin for misdemeanor crimes have spent time in the county jail, said Jeff Dingman, Baldwin city administrator. But with the exception of traffic violations, the city's police department has turned over most misdemeanor cases to the Douglas County District Court for prosecution.

City, police and court officials in Baldwin have decided to deal with more misdemeanors, such as battery and minor drug offenses in their own city court system.

"We have a sense of professionalism within the police department and the court system to where things can be done locally," Dingman said. "It seems right for us to make this move."

He said the city also was losing out on potential funds by not dealing with the cases in municipal court because when violators pay fines, the money has been going through the district court.

In order for the city to move forward with expanding the municipal court, it needs a contract in place allowing them to send violators to the county jail.

Based on the proposed contract, Douglas County Undersheriff Kenny Massey said, the city of Baldwin will be charged the same amount as the city of Lawrence for the service.

Massey said the jail's average daily population was about 135 inmates. The jail has 196 beds. Fifty-six of the beds are dedicated to work-release inmates, and 25 beds are for women.

This story will be updated online Tuesday and there will also be a story in this week's Baldwin City Signal with additional details.

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