Prying the Jail Cost Numbers from the Locked Down Sheriff’s Department

This is the Day Room of the ICE floor at the McHenry County Jail.  In May the estimated revenue for this Fiscal Year was about $10 million.

This is the Day Room of the ICE floor at the McHenry County Jail.

Municipal bond analyst Steve Wilson left the following message under the first part of my report of the McHenry County Board debate about the $10 increase for housing Federal prisoners:

How much are we losing each day per prisoner?

I have not looked at the Sheriff’s numbers in detail, so, to be perfectly frank, I am completely ignorant about them.

Of course, being ignorant doesn’t stop me from having an opinion.

And my opinion is: don’t trust their calculation of the “cost per day per prisoner.”

  • After my long fight with MCC over the expansion, I have learned that government administrations are perfectly willing to go to great lengths to hide their mistakes:
  • to make up numbers
  • attribute expenses for one program to another
  • leave out overhead, and
  • use very rosy forecasts of demand, even in the face of a long-term declining trend, so the projected denominator bears no resemblance to the real denominator, meaning the cost per prisoner is actually higher than they say and rising ever year that demand goes down.

(I remember many years ago, when the Chicago Board of Ed included every employee with a teaching certificate in with their teacher numbers, even though many were administrators and never taught a single class. It greatly reduced the number of “administrators” and made their teacher:pupil ratio look much better than it was.)

Is this true in the Sheriff’s case?

We don’t know, and that’s not our fault.

Zinnke reaching over maybe Bus Mag 5-6-14

Undersheriff Andrew Zinke did not participate in the discussion of the jail contract. Sheriff Keith Nygren was absent.

The reason we don’t know is because they’ve have been very careful not to release the information that would be needed to independently verify their claims.

So, as I said, I’m ignorant.

But that’s not my fault, and I sure as heck wouldn’t take it on faith that any numbers the Sheriff gives me are anywhere near accurate.

Perhaps the County Board will ask McHenry County Auditor Pam Palmer to conduct an audit to obtain the cost figures.

Maybe County Administrator Pete Austin will consider recruiting CTA whistleblower Casey Loop to join his staff to replace retiring John Labaj.

Casey Loop blew the whistle on much overly optimistic numbers in the Chicago Transit Authority, reported that to the RTA after being brushed off by his superiors.  He was fired.

Casey Loop blew the whistle on much overly optimistic numbers in the Chicago Transit Authority, reported that to the RTA after being brushed off by his superiors. He was fired.

If Austin does not, maybe the County Board elected in 2016 will decide they want someone of Loop’s talents to cut through any curtain the first County Board Chairman elected at-large puts up to hide what he/she is doing.  (You can read the article here.)


Comments

Prying the Jail Cost Numbers from the Locked Down Sheriff’s Department — 3 Comments

  1. This now, MCC, Nunda Twp audit secrets, I’m sure there are more.

    It is time to clean out the establishment.

    Dirty little secrets need to be exposed.

    Just getting our tax bills does not make this easier!

    We need an outside auditor.

    A new & clean county board; new senator, reps, twp pols – SHERIFF – because it couldn’t be more obvious they are all hiding something.

    Replacing the establishment officers in the county GOP is a good start.

    All taxpayers keep your eyes and ears open, ask questions till you get answers.

    The handful of you on the county board doing that – THANK YOU.

    The rest of you, hiding something – shame on you.

    We are watching and taking notes, & will not forget.

  2. Agree with Had Enough: and when they’re all exposed, there’s plenty of room in the Day Room for them, once ICE prisoners are evicted.

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