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Sheriff: New commissary will triple revenue

Sheriff: New commissary will triple revenue

January 2nd, 2019 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

County commissioners Gary Jungermann, left, and Roger Fischer look over paperwork for a contract between the Callaway County Jail and Keefe Commissary Network. Jail Administrator Robert Harrison and Callaway County Sheriff Clay Chism said the new kiosk will streamline the commissary system and make the jail more money.

Photo by Helen Wilbers /Fulton Sun.

The Callaway County Jail will be switching to a kiosk-based commissary system in the new year.

New kiosks installed in the jail's day-room and lobby will allow inmates and their family members to deposit money into inmates' commissary accounts. Money can also be deposited via phone or a website. They will also allow inmates to place commissary orders to be delivered, neatly boxed, directly to the inmates.

"This will take pressure off jail corrections officers, who will be doing less handling of cash," Presiding County Commissioner Gary Jungermann said.

This swap is the result of commissary contract renegotiations by Sheriff Clay Chism.

"Even after two years in office, I'm still constantly reviewing contracts," Chism said during a Monday meeting. "I noted that the jail currently makes a 10 percent commission on commissary sale, whereas most other jails in the area receive between 25 and 30 percent."

After Chism opened bids to handle the jail's commissary, Keefe Commissary Network made the best offer, he said. Keefe is the current holder of the commissary contract, and has been for decades, Chism said.

Chism was able to negotiate the commission up to 30 percent, putting the county jail's commissary commission on par with other jails in the region.

"We'll be making three times as much as we used to," County Commissioner Randy Kleindienst said.

By law, the commission money must be deposited into a special fund used for purchasing items to care for inmates, such as inmate clothing. Chism estimates the new contract should bring in an extra $25,619 over the next three years, based on this fiscal year's $4,269.90 in commissions.

He said the larger commissary revenue stream will allow the county to reallocate money formerly budgeted towards inmate care toward other pressing matters in the county.

The new system also means jail employees will no longer have to handle inmate money, though they'll still be able to view inmate accounts. Any funds left in an inmate's commissary account upon release will be returned to the inmate loaded on a debit card, Chism said.

"Previously, when (an inmate) came in with 50 cents in their pocket and left two weeks later, we'd have to mail them a check for their 50 cents," Chism said. "Getting us out of the money business is a great deal."

The county's only upfront cost will be supplying internet and electricity to the two kiosks. Keefe will handle everything else, Chism said, from delivering commissary orders to training for the jail's accountant.

Chism said he and Jail Administrator Robert Harrison toured two Keefe facilities in St. Louis and were impressed.

"We made sure the security safeguards they promised were in place," he said. "They're selling us a product with spectacular security measures behind it."

The Franklin County Jail Administrator also spoke highly of the Keefe commissary system, Chism said.

During Monday's meeting, county commissioners voted to enter into a three-year contract with Keefe beginning Jan. 14.

Kiosks are already in place in the jail's day-room, where they serve as part of a video visitation system. New lobby kiosks should be up and running within 90-120 days, Harrison said.