Casey jail may get 40 more beds

April 20, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - Casey County is considering a 40-bed addition to its new jail, which is overflowing with inmates from Kentucky and Indiana.

"We've been talking about an addition to the jail for a while," Judge-Executive Ronald Wright told the Fiscal Court Monday. "Tommy Miller (jailer) brings it up about every other day."

At the end of a lengthy discussion, the court agreed to get costs for hiring an architect to design an addition to the left side of the detention center.

The court was asked to consider adding five eight-bed medium security dorms at an estimated cost of $804,809. Another option of a 32-bed dormitory plus four isolation cells would cost $861,000.


The judge recommended the 40-bed addition and said money left over from the jail construction budget will help pay for the addition. He said the jail project came in under budget and the bonds had already been sold, so the extra $511,000 could be used for new construction.

"I believe we can take the $511,000 we've got and pay the debt off in a year," said Wright.

Fourteen prisoners from Indiana added

Miller said the jail has recently added 14 prisoners from Indiana at a rate of $35 per day and Indiana pays the medical expenses, while Kentucky pays $26.51 per day per inmate and the jail has to pay medical expenses. He told the court that getting a contract for more Indiana inmates would not be a problem but the jail does not want to lose its Kentucky inmates.

Wright said the state allows the jail to be over capacity by 10 to 15 percent. The 122-bed facility has held up to 160 inmates at one time.

When the jail was inspected last week, the only non-compliance was overcrowding, Wright said.

When Casey County Detention Center was built a couple of years ago, the court wanted to build a jail to hold county inmates because it was too expensive to send them out of the county, and to make it more convenient for families to visit the inmates.

Wright said since the jail opened, the county has been able to make the two yearly payments without any trouble. "The jail will be self-supporting if it (the inmate population) stays like this.

"If we build on 40 more beds, I think we can operate without any additional help," the judge-executive said. One more person may be needed at the most, he said.

The plan will work if the county can house Indiana inmates and get $504,000 a year, as compared to state inmates which would generate $381,000 annually.

"I think business-wise we should consider building an addition," Wright said. "I wouldn't hesitate to build if I was in private business."

Miller said Indiana will supply as many prisoners as the county can house. "Kentucky turns down more than 300 inmates across the state in a year." By 2005, the state inmate population is projected to increase by 5,000, he said.

Fifty-seven inmates work for the county

Miller said 57 inmates work for the county. They are minimum security inmates serving terms from one to five years.

"Two years ago, we wondered if we could fill the beds, but we haven't had any problems so far," said Wright.

The additional inmates will have no effect on the number of Casey County prisoners kept in the jail. "We've got to house our own prisoners," he said.

Miller said the economic impact will help the county in other ways besides furnishing free labor to government agencies. Although there is no way to predict the figures, he thinks families traveling to the county will spend money on services like gasoline, food and other shopping.

The jailer also said inmates who work saved the county an estimated $289,912 in labor costs in 2003. The inmates work for state, county and city governments and do things in the community.

The detention center also has saved an estimated $186,388 in labor costs by using inmates for janitorial, maintenance, laundry and kitchen duties. Miller said the help allows the deputies to perform security checks and supervise inmates.

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