The Mercer County Fiscal Court heard some good news during their final meeting of 2017. The population at Boyle County Detention Center is down below 300 for the first time in at least two years. There were 263 inmates in BCDC on Friday morning.
Mercer County Attorney Ted Dean said getting the population down at the regional jail—which was designed to hold 200 inmates—made the jail safer.
“If we’re below 300, we can reasonably accommodate the population,” Dean said. “I’m pretty pleased with where we’re at.”
The prosecutor was reluctant to attribute the decline to the rocket docket programs, which accelerate the time it takes defendants to be processed by the criminal justice system. Both Boyle and Mercer Counties have adopted rocket dockets recently. Dean said he wanted to hear the inmate population report from Boyle County Jailer Barry Harmon first.
He did point to several factors which may be contributing to the decline. One, the Mercer County Grand Jury only handed down five indictments the last time they convened. Dean said the number of indictments handed down by the Boyle County Grand Jury has also declined in recent months.
He also said inmate population dips during the winter months. Last year, there was no dip. Dean said there were around 360 inmates in BCDC this time last year.
During the fiscal court meeting, Magistrate Dennis Holiday asked how many state inmates were being housed at BCDC and how much the state paid to keep the inmates there.
Dean said the state was paying $30 per head per day to keep around 100 state inmates in BCDC. The jail pays $28 per day to house one prisoner. “So we’re making $2 per head?” Holiday asked.
Dean said it wasn’t that simple. He said housing state inmates offset approximately $1.25 million in expenses at BCDC.
Last year, when BCDC’s population was around 400 and the jailers were having to ship inmates to jails in other counties, Dean said the joint jail committee looked at asking the state to take back the state inmates. But even though the two counties pay for state inmates’ medical expenses, the move would have cost BCDC in too much lost income, he said. Without state inmates, Mercer and Boyle Counties would be responsible for all jail expenses themselves.
The fiscal court approved transferring $42,000 in funds from the county’s payroll and net profit fund to the jail fund to cover a payment missed in July.
The next meeting of the Mercer County Fiscal Court will be Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 10 a.m.
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.