Boone County looking for solutions to jail overcrowding

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COLUMBIA- The number of people detained at Boone County Jail is on the rise, and the operating costs are rising with it.

Currently, the jail is at maximum capacity, with all 210 beds filled. But there are more inmates than beds.

When the jail can't house inmates that can't be released back into society, it has to send the inmates to other facilities, like Reality House, a low-risk housing facility.

It costs Boone County $35 per day to house inmates there. 

They are also being housed in other counties such as Montgomery and Cooper County, where Boone County is paying $40 per day, per inmate.

And this is costing the county a lot of money.

In 2016, Boone County went $130,000 over its out of county budget.

Part of the reason behind the overcrowding are the inmates themselves. More and more are coming in with felonies than misdemeanors, so that means longer stays in jail.

Former Boone County Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler is working on a project to put together statistics on this rising number. 

"If we hit the wall and we are constantly putting high numbers out, the question becomes if we expand the facility somewhat. The answer to that is not simple. we are confined by the footprints of the jail now," Oxenhandler said.

The former judge held an open forum for the community Wednesday night so he could add what the community had to say into his findings. 

One community member, Eugene Elkin, said he thinks ankle bracelets are a better solution for people who commit less offensive crimes.

"We need to bring empathy and a soft view to this issue. Maybe a new angle of incarceration, not physically in the jail, but knowing you have messed up, you need to pay your price to society, and you need to be set free," Elkin said. 

If it comes down to having to build a new facility, or expand on the current one, Oxenhandler said officials will have to keep in mind how much it will cost them to house inmates elsewhere.

Oxenhandler said he should have all of his findings by the end of April.

 

{This story has been updated with the correct name of the judge. It's Oxenhandler, not Oxenholder. We apologize for the mistake.}

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