by Andrew Schunk | Editor
Twinsburg — The city may look to house all of its prisoners in Solon’s much larger jail beginning in January 2013, a move that Police Chief Chris Noga says could save the city up to $100,000 per year in real costs and a reallocation of resources.
According to Noga, who was to present the plan to City Council Nov. 27, Twinsburg spends about $152,000 per year running its 12-day, 8-cell jail attached to the police station at Government Center.
A proposed 3-year, $85,200 per year flat rate contract with the city of Solon for use of its 26-person jail that can house prisoners for up to one year would save the city in part-time jailer costs, utility costs, administration and booking of prisoners, as well as transport costs, Noga estimates.
“We’re still working out the terms,” Noga said, “but this is a really good option for us ... there’s the opportunity for significant savings here.”
Solon Police Chief Chris Viland confirmed he’s been working over the last several months on the somewhat unique contract with Twinsburg. Solon has a working contract with a number of communities to house prisoners on a per-prisoner basis, but only the Twinsburg contract would be paid at a flat annual fee.
“This will allow his officers to make an arrest, drop them off [in Solon] and get back on the road without the booking and jailing duties and related costs,” Viland said. “On my end, I have a steady stream of revenue with which I can plan a year in advance.”
Noga said he expects the first 36-month contract with Solon to begin by January, if legislation can be assembled and approved by Council in December.
Solon maintains a full service, dormitory-style jail, complete with a doctor’s office and kitchen, where prisoners can be incarcerated for up to a year.
Unlike the Twinsburg jail, Solon’s has staff on duty around the clock, Noga said.
“Now, rather than having an officer stop in for 15 minutes at night to check on the jail, I can have them on the road full time,” Noga said.
Noga also said the city of Twinsburg would save money on the three part-time police officers who staff the city’s jail during the day — at 12 hours per day, seven days a week.
“I can cut them back to six hours per day through the week, handling administrative duties and prisoner transports [to Solon],” Noga said.
No longer would a female dispatcher or officer need be on duty in Twinsburg, either, to perform body searches of females, as Solon is equipped with female jailers to assist females, and qualified officers to assist with special needs prisoners. Twinsburg currently dedicates two of its 10 cells to female prisoners, Noga explained.
Solon City Jail is about a 10-minute drive from Twinsburg. Noga said most prisoners could be transported to Solon directly from the their arrest location.
Twinsburg had considered another option — the more common contract for Solon — with its northerly neighbor in February of this year that would have housed some prisoners, specifically any female overflow prisoners from Twinsburg, in the Solon jail, at $75 per day. If a prisoner’s stay is less than eight hours, the cost would be $42.50 per prisoner per day.
The average daily prisoner count in Twinsburg in 2011 was 1.03 prisoners per day. A total of 144 prisoners were incarcerated in the Twinsburg jail in 2011. Statistics were not yet available for this year.
Twinsburg would continue to keep its jail open in case of emergency, Noga said, even if the Solon proposal is approved by City Council, though the jail’s 2013 budget line item would likely be considerably less than $152,000.
“This is the kind of regional approach ... that can lower our cost by working with our neighbors,” Noga said Nov. 26. “And this time I believe we’ve done that.”
“We certainly support sharing services ... when it can be mutually beneficial to everyone involved,” Viland said.