Auditor Of Public Accounts
State Auditor Crit Luallen Unveils New Initiative to Expand Audits of County Jails
State Auditor Crit Luallen unveils today an initiative to expand audits of County Jails throughout the state of Kentucky. The expanded audits were announced in a speech in Louisville before a joint convention of the Kentucky County Judge Executive Association and the Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association. The expanded reviews, to be conducted as part of each county's annual fiscal court audit, is in response to the rising costs of incarceration that is plaguing many county governments.
"The blunt truth is: funding incarceration expenses have become a crisis for you and therefore, a crisis for Kentucky. Jail expenditures are a rapidly growing component of county budgets and many simply cannot remain financially viable without an ever-growing infusion of precious county resources - resources that could be used for many other services for taxpayers." Auditor Luallen told the associations.
Luallen continued, "In response to this problem, the State Auditor's Office is launching an initiative to expand fiscal court audit procedures to include a more thorough review of jails. As a first step, my office will conduct the first ever comprehensive survey of county jails and detention centers. It will be conducted in all of Kentucky's 120 counties and will, for the first time, allow all levels of government to see the scope and magnitude of the jail-funding problem."
A professional auditor from the State Auditor's Office will conduct the survey which will take up to four hours to complete. The survey was developed in cooperation with the Kentucky Jailers' Association, the Kentucky County Judge / Executive Association, the Kentucky Association of Magistrates and Commissioners, the Kentucky Association of Counties, the Governor's Office of Local Development, and the Department of Corrections.
Luallen noted the importance of this cooperation in her remarks, "It is rare for so many separate organizations, with so many separate agendas, to agree on anything, especially in today's climate. This is a testament to the seriousness of the problem and desire of everyone to address the financial pressures jails are causing."
The survey will cover a broad range of issues, including the total medical expenditures of a jail, the cost per meal for each facility, the jail's phone service, and canteen operations. The survey results will be compiled for a report to each of the stakeholders and to the 2006 General Assembly and will provide them with an comprehensive assessment of how well each jail is operating and how each jail compares with others throughout the state.
Luallen noted that many factors are beyond the control of public officials but improving financial management is one area auditors can bring value to the process.