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Prison Vans Across The Prairie Roll No More


Olathe, Kan. – It hasn't been unusual for Johnson County Kansas to farm out its jail inmates to places as far away as the Colorado line. An era ended this week as all prisoners were moved back to home base.

For lack of local space prisoners were contracted to other counties around Kansas. The practice lasted more than twenty years. A fleet of vans was almost constantly moving with inmates. It cost the county some $30 million in this decade alone.

With completion of the new and expanded jail at Gardner, inmates have been gradually transferred back. Sheriff Frank Denning said it's still not cheap to fill 820 cells, an average of $76 a day, and ,"when you figure the total costs involved including the additional services like medical and psychiatric services, the total cost per day to house an inmate here is about $101."

The original county jail located in downtown Olathe, just west of the courthouse, is shuttered for rehabilitation. The sheriff intends to use it for prisoner intake processing in the future.

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