Sheriff uses planning and budgeting for housing predicament

By Jonathan Griffin
Ledger Staff Writer
The Audrain County Jail is weathering the prisoner housing predicament through planning and budgeting. The jail, under the leadership of Sheriff Stuart Miller, operates under a budgetary policy of keeping costs low through a combination of in-house solutions and smart outsourcing policies.
Case in point is the installation of modern cameras a few years ago to better monitor the inmates. From their research, the jail administration found that using an outside company to purchase and install the cameras would incur a hefty price tag (low estimates were in the $10,000 range). Audrain County's solution: use officers and other personnel to install the system themselves. They did. Their final cost came out to less than $2,000 total.
Chief Deputy Don Uhey was one of the main workers on the project.
"We knew where we needed things to be," he said. "We knew what we wanted them to do and so we made sure we set it up to our requirements."
The jail administration and staff said they think that the system works as well, if not better, than anyone found in any other Missouri jail.
Many times jails have to scale back on outside sources such as food or medica services. This is not the case with the Audrain County Jail. In fact, Miller sees the costs as necessary for a smooth operation.
"It's about being smart in finding the right people who know how to do the job," he said. "It takes a bit of work at the start but it works better in the end."
The inmate population itself has a great deal to do with the costs of the jail. From 2008 to 2013 the average population at the jail is 58 inmates per day. With a maximum capacity of 103 inmates for the facility, the average of 58 per day may not seem to be optimal but Jail Administrator Gabe Duncan says that the lower number actually helps reduce incidents and, thus, costs.
"Our main concern here is safety and security," he said. "We want those two things for our inmates and for the general public. Keeping the population low helps us meet our goal."
County Commissioner Steve Hobbs complimented the jail staff for their efficiency and careful use of funds.
"The Audrain County Jail should be used as the example for how to run a facility," he said. "In fact, they are a leader with the know how to run successful programs."