Editor’s Note: Due to a production error, another story was run under this story’s headline in the latest edition. Here is the complete story.
The Boyle and Mercer County Joint Jail Committee finally decided which consultant to hire to try and solve the jail’s overcrowding woes. They voted to pay $75,000 to Brandstetter-Carroll Inc., a consulting firm with an office in Lexington. The committee members cited Brandstetter-Carroll’s local presence. The firm’s lead consultant on the jail project, Monica Sumner, lives in Boyle County.
“If our taxes go up, her’s will too,” joked Boyle County Jailer Barry Harmon.
The firm has a tough job ahead of it. Twice this year, Boyle County Detention Center has had to turn away inmates because it was overcrowded. BCDC was designed to hold 220 inmates. On Friday, it held 361. Harmon said there were 302 inmates in the main jail, which has 140 beds.
The jail held 169 prisoners from Boyle County and 118 from the Kentucky Department of Corrections. Only 74 came from Mercer County. BCDC is currently paying Casey County to hold 15 inmates.
“We felt like they understood what we were looking for,” said Mercer County Judge-Executive Milward Dedman. Dedman said the firm seemed to be looking for solutions instead of building a new jail or expanding the current facilities.
However, a recent federal report listed “a host of deficiencies” including deferred maintenance issues and severe overpopulation at BCDC.
The 23-page jail and justice system assessment compiled by the National Institute of Corrections Jails Division documented extensive damage at BCDC, including water damaged ceiling tiles, peeling paint, rusted doors and window frames, graffiti on the facility walls and severe overcrowding.
The NIC’s recommendations include creating a criminal justice coordinating committee, developing a criminal justice system master plan that includes detailed data analysis and cost-benefit evaluations, repairing the aging facility, develop an inmate classification plan, perform a staffing analysis to determine if there are enough workers to operate the jail and develop alternatives to incarceration that could relieve jail overcrowding.
Brandstetter-Carroll will work closely with the NIC. A company representative will meet with joint jail committee members at the next meeting.
In other business, the joint jail committee:
• Referred the discussion over instituting an employee point system at BCDC to the Boyle County personnel committee.
• Approved revisions to the jail’s policy and procedure manual. One of the changes is reclassifying trustees as prison workers.
“You can’t trust them,” said Harmon, who noted BCDC trustees had been caught stockpiling the meal trays as a scheme to get more food. The revisions will need to be approved by both counties’ fiscal courts.
They also approved modifying the jail’s volunteer policy to suspend visiting privileges for visitors who violate jail policies, such as not disclosing being related to inmates.
• Tabled the possible hiring of four full-time deputies until further information. The committee also tabled the purchase of a new tracking system until the technology was more reliable.
The next meeting of the joint jail committee is scheduled for noon on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at the Mercer County Fiscal Courthouse.
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of The Harrodsburg Herald.