Hustonville clerk wants better inmate supervision

August 04, 2004|HERB BROCK

HUSTONVILLE - A clerk at Hustonville City Hall is finding the work release program for Lincoln County Regional Jail inmates too close for comfort. And her complaint at Tuesday night's Hustonville City Council meeting sparked an argument with the mayor.

After the council had completed most of its business, assistant clerk Lorraine Warner asked for permission to voice a concern. She cited a recent situation at city hall as evidence that inmates assigned to work details for the city need better supervision.

Warner said she, Mayor Larry "Pup" Doss and Police Chief Fred McCoy were in the office when an inmate on a break came in to get a drink of water and use the restroom. She said Doss and McCoy left the building, leaving her in the office with the inmate.

"I was in here by myself with this prisoner in the bathroom," Warner said. "I didn't feel (safe) "


Doss replied that he and McCoy were just outside the building. He also defended the program as beneficial to the city and described the inmates as low-risk criminals.

"These men do a lot of work for the city, and they're all short-term (inmates) whose crimes aren't that serious," he said. "Besides, how many of the people who come in here every day to pay their water bills are ex-prisoners? I'd say there's a few."

Warner said she agreed the inmates are valuable in helping the city with public works projects and she said she also had no problem with the policy allowing inmates 30 minutes off for lunch and periodic breaks. But she said there should always be at least one male, preferably a jail official or police officer, with the inmates at all times when the inmates are in city hall.

But the mayor indicated he thought Warner was overreacting to a benign situation and suggested her gripe was the latest in a pattern of baseless complaints.

"Every time I turn around, you're a-cryin' about something," said Doss.

"I don't have a problem with you. My problem is with unsupervised inmates and I'd like something done," Warner said to the mayor.

The council did not take any action on Warner's complaint. However, council members told the mayor that inmates should be under male supervision at all times, including during work breaks.

Other business

In another matter, the council held what appeared to be the first reading of a proposed planning and zoning ordinance under which Hustonville and Crab Orchard would join Lincoln County Fiscal Court in forming a joint commission.

After City Clerk Rita Clem read the ordinance, which includes a provision under which neither Hustonville nor Crab Orchard would be responsible for any funding of the joint panel, the council did not take a vote. Apparently, the council will vote when the ordinance is read a second time.

In other business, the council:

* Approved a new office schedule for city hall, where the main business is the payment of water bills. Under the new schedule, the office will be closed Saturdays; it has been opened from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. Beginning Monday the new city hall schedule calls for the office to be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

* Kept personal property taxes the same. Personal property taxes generate about $11,000 a year for the city.

* Heard a progress report from Luther Galloway of AGE Engineers of Stanford about a plan under which the city to build an 8-inch line to Junction City to tap into the city of Danville's water system. The plan would double the capacity of Hustonville's system from 400 gallons a minute to 800 gallons a minute, Galloway said.

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