TAXPAYER SAVINGS: Inmate lockdown reduces guard overtime

PASCO, Wash. -- KEPR discovered a prisoner lockdown at the Franklin County Jail is saving you a lot of money.

It's the success of separation. Inside the lonely cells at the Franklin County Jail, a prisoner lockdown is helping to save a ton of money, while keeping guards safer than ever.

"They have control over what's happening. It's much better than before," says Corrections Supervisor Rick Long.

Three years ago, the jail came up with an innovative plan: keep each prisoner on permanent lockdown. That means only a few inmates are allowed outside their cells at any given time. To say it's led to better safety would be an understatement. In the days when dozens of prisoners roamed the halls together, Franklin County averaged five fights a week. That's now down to five fights in an entire year.

"They're not spending time at the ER having to have tests, head stitches, and whatever else," Capt. Long says.

It's critical because you're the one who pays for it. Medical costs are billed to taxpayers.Since the lockdown began, the jail saved nearly $100,000 on medical costs. And that means fewer hours officers need to work, fill out paperwork and escort prisoners to the hospital. The result? Another $10,000 the jail no longer has to pay in overtime. In the wake of the embezzlement scandal, every dollar counts. The savings allows Franklin County to have more money for things like road repairs.

It's never cheap to keep people locked up.
But in Franklin County at least, keeping them isolated saves us all some cash.