Scott County serves as model for use of ankle bracelet monitoring of inmates

Saturday, June 26, 2010 ~ Updated 5:00 PM

BENTON, Mo. -- Scott County's experience with an ankle bracelet monitoring system for non-violent inmates could serve as a model for the General Assembly to change its reimbursements.

The Sikeston Standard Democrat reported that on Wednesday, the southeast district commissioners meeting, which represents 10 counties, was held. There, Scott County officials talked about their experience with the bracelets. It is the only local county to use the program.

"Other counties are interested in it, so we've sent them information," said Commissioner Donnie Kiefer.

The interest is also spurring a movement to bring such programs to the attention of the state legislature. While the state does reimburse counties just over $19 of the $35 daily expense to house a prisoner, no such reimbursement is in place for those using ankle bracelets. Therefore, the $10 daily fee must be paid by the offender or their family, said Sheriff Rick Walter.

"This (reimbursement for ankle bracelets) could save the county and the state," he said. Figures project there is a $2,728 difference for 105 days for one inmate, including the installation fee for the ankle bracelets and the medical fees for inmates.

"We really hope to bring attention to this through the Missouri Association of Counties and the Missouri Sheriff's Association," said Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn.

In other business during Thursday's county commission meeting, officials talked about funding opportunities for a southern Scott City interchange project.

Meeting with the commission were Ron Eskew, city administrator in Scott City; Bill Robinson, Missouri Department of Transportation planning manager; and Mark Grimm, attorney with Gilmore and Bell in St. Louis.

According to Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger, the project is ranked No. 9 on the state's list.

"We're all ready to go, we just don't have any money yet," he said. However, there are some monies currently allocated, such as from the Illmo Special Road District and funds left over from the Ramsey Creek project.

Robinson noted that MoDOT has programs to do a cost-share, likely 50-50. "We work with communities on this basis if there is economic development involved," he said.

Grimm said that officials would need to decide what areas they wanted to apply a tax to before he could make real recommendations on what structure would work best.

"If the entire city limits are included, I would encourage a transportation sales tax, because you can basically get to the same point without developing another legal entity," he said. Transportation districts and community improvements districts require a legal entity of their own, he said, and there are maintenance costs associated.

Also on Thursday, commissioners met with McIvan LaGrand and Shawna Schmitt of NBC Fire Protection District. The two asked commissioners to consider a contract making NBC the sole responder to fires at county buildings in Benton.

"We have a mutual aid contract with everybody but Benton," said Schmitt.

LaGrand noted that while NBC would still respond to a fire, they would not be a charge, although with their training and equipment, NBC has more resources to fight fires.

"They (the Benton department) aren't set up to go inside, and fight fires from the outside, with no gear on," said Schmitt.

LaGrand added: "With the equipment we have, we can save structures and actually save a life."

Burger said commissioners would need to review the information presented and talk to the city of Benton and others involved before a decision is made. Commissioners also reflected on the leadership meeting held Tuesday in Scott City. Mayors and superintendents from across the county were invited to the luncheon and roundtable discussion.

"We were very well represented," said Ziegenhorn. "It's always good for one part of the county to know what another part is doing."

Municipal budgets were a focus of the group, as well as questions as to when the first phase of Public Water Supply District No. 4 will be complete.

This is the first such meeting held recently, as attendance was down for the monthly meetings. Ziegenhorn said no real schedule has been set, but they will likely be held quarterly.

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