COLUMBUS A new jail is starting to pay off for Cherokee County, which took in just under $367,000 last year for housing inmates from Sedgwick County.
The county used to have to pay to send inmates elsewhere. Now, it not only takes care of its own but has room to spare - to the extent that it's considering bringing in more prisoners from other areas.
Undersheriff Kevin Soucy says the jail has been using only about 75 percent of its capacity.
"We've got Johnson County still looking at us to house prisoners, and we'll probably start doing that this year," Sheriff Steve Norman said. "We've had some other interested counties, typically north of us, in the Kansas City metro area, that are wanting to house prisoners here. We're entertaining that."
The county gets $35 a day to house men and $40 for female prisoners. It typically has between 50 and 60 Sedgwick County inmates at any given time, plus about 25 of its own prisoners.
In 2004, Cherokee County spent $70,160 to house its inmates in other jails. The new jail, financed through a half-cent county sales tax, changed that.
The county started out using its extra capacity to serve Sedgwick County's need for more space. The program brought in $4,650 in April, its first month, but grew quickly, with monthly revenue of about $50,000 for the last five months of the year.