Jail committee eyes upgrading phones

November 16, 2003|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG The committee that oversees the operation of the Boyle County Detention Center heard plans for upgrading computer and telephone systems and a suggested way to handle unruly inmates.

Melinda Parsons told the Boyle and Mercer County Joint Jail Committee that her company, Evercom Systems Inc., could offer two payment options for a new contract to provide a commission to the jail for use of the system and prices for new computer equipment.

The jail receives a commission from Evercom and depends on that money for jail operations. The current commission is 28 percent. Parsons said the jail would receive an increase in the commission if it signed a new five-year contract. The options are:

* 38 percent commission that would give the jail about $3,600 a month in commission, or,

* 36 percent commission with a $10,000 signing bonus that could be used to purchase new computer equipment from Evercom.


The difference between the two options amounts to $2,400 a year. Inmates using the system would pay $1.85 for local collect calls and $1.50 plus distance charges for long distance collect. Those amounts cover a one- to 15-minute call.

Boyle County Jailer Barry Harmon said the computer system in the jail is nine years old and it creates a bottleneck in the booking department. The new system would provide a digital camera at booking and give the jail Internet access, which it has never had.

The new computer system includes 11 workstations, five laser printers, and one inkjet color printer for the price of $20,328 for the new jail management system. Parsons suggested a $469 monthly payment over 60 months. She said the system needs new software, and she would be making a proposal for that in the near future.

Mercer County Judge-Executive John Trisler suggested the committee seek other prices for similar systems and the committee would make a decision at its Dec. 12 meeting.

Boyle County Treasurer Mary Lynn pleaded with the committee to purchase both hardware and software from the same vendor to cut down on contacts needed to repair one or the other. "The (hardware vendor) will say it's the (software vendor's) fault and the (software vendor) will blame it on (the hardware.)"

She also said interest rates from the banks are so low that it might be better to borrow the money locally.

Harmon wants to establish team to remove an unwilling inmate

Harmon also proposed to the committee that a team be established to remove an unwilling inmate from his cell. An inmate sometimes spreads shampoo all over the cell and on himself and it makes it very difficult to get that person under control.

The other danger, the jailer said, is the inmate might have a disease and it is not unusual for the person to bite deputies trying to subdue him or her. Harmon said the Certified Emergency Response Team would be equipped with protective clothing and pepper ball guns.

He said the guns were similar to paint ball guns and the gun can be either aimed at the inmate or at the wall or ceiling. Hitting the inmate only bruises and he thinks he's been shot. The bruises go away after a time. Either way, the pepper immobilizes the inmate.

There are five members of the CERT. While four members try to get the inmate under control, a fifth member video tapes the incident so an inmate's claim that he has been brutalized by his captors can be proved false.

The three-day training will cost about $2,000 and a pepper-ball gun costs $500. Protective equipment for all five members would be $2,000. Harmon said he wanted to go ahead and get some prices for the team.

Harmon said supervisors of Class D inmates used in work around the two counties need to be more vigilant in watching the inmates' actions. One walked away from his supervisors in Boyle County this week.

While supervisors need to be more attentive, they should not try to become a captor of a missing inmate, he said. If an inmate gets away from a work site, his supervisor should not try to catch him, but rather call the jail immediately and let trained personnel deal with the situation.

Inmates often gain their supervisor's confidence and the supervisor may become lax in dealing with the inmate.

Jail Capt. Phillip Yates said one inmate was picked up by a friend from the Mercer County Senior Citizens' Center and one inmate came back from the Mercer County Animal Shelter high on a substance the jail could not identify.

Trisler said the supervisors need to receive training each year to refresh their understanding of their responsibilities.

"The state will take them away from us if we don't control them," Yates said. The per diem pay from the state for housing Class D felons also is needed for jail operation. Inmates are not allowed to contact the people around whom they work or make telephone calls. They also are not allowed to go into a store to purchase items.

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