The Kansas Department of Corrections reversed its decision about reimbursement from offenders for electronic monitoring device costs after Rep. Tom Sloan gave its secretary a call.
Rep. Tom Sloan didn't think it made sense that the state was barring Douglas County from trying to stretch its dollars by collecting reimbursement from offenders on electronic monitoring.
Listening to county administrator Craig Weinaug grumble about the funding shortfall at a recent Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Sloan, a Lawrence Republican, decided the Kansas Department of Corrections' policy violated the laws of fiscal responsibility.
So after Weinaug's presentation last Thursday, the 45th District representative asked the county official if he wanted him to call Corrections Secretary Charles E. Simmons.
Weinaug told him it was no big deal, Sloan recalled Tuesday.
But Sloan thought it was. He called Simmons anyway -- later that day -- and got the corrections official to reverse the decision.
Weinaug said he had declined when Sloan made the offer because "sometimes when you win the battle you lose the war."
But Weinaug now is glad that Sloan made the call.
"Craig had said it was not that big of a deal, but to me, it is a big deal because it was unreasonable not to be able to charge that fee," Sloan said. "Secondly, every dollar is important to local government and the taxpayers."
Community corrections director Patricia Berry just last week requested additional funding from the county for electronic monitoring, a program in which offenders wear devices that keep track of their whereabouts.
Berry told commissioners that her department didn't receive enough money from a condition violator grant to finance electronic monitoring through June, the end of the fiscal year, and that the state had told her she no longer could accept payments from offenders.
The county agreed to give Berry as much as $3,900 to keep the program going through the end of the fiscal year. The grant from the state was for $29,000.
Now Berry might not need that much money. Only about a third of offenders actually reimburse the county, but those payments help, she said.
The county asks offenders on electronic monitoring to pay $8.25 a day for the program, which keeps them out of jail as long as they meet the conditions of their probation.
The corrections department awarded about $700,000 to nine programs through its condition violator grant, said Bill Miskell, KDOC public information officer.
The department made a policy decision that fees for programs under the grant would not be authorized.
After Sloan's call, the department changed its mind.
"That policy was looked at a second time so community corrections could recoup the cost," Miskell said Tuesday.
And in a letter Sloan received from Simmons on Tuesday, Simmons said he was supportive of offenders being assessed reasonable fees.
"I believe it promotes accountability and responsibility," he said.
"They are settling a debt with society by being restrained, if you will, and part of the payment of the debt to society is not to incur more taxpayer liability," Sloan said.
-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.