“This is not a new problem, but it is a growing problem,” Sallee said. “We have so many county inmates, but we don’t have the jail to hold them.”
In a week’s time, Feb. 9 through Feb. 16, the jail housed between 157 and 186 inmates, nearly 50 over capacity. This number does not account for the fluctuation of inmates such as weekenders, who serve out their sentence Fridays through Sundays. Currently, there are 11 weekenders.
“The biggest problem we have now is holding inmates for court,” Sallee said. “Some wait for court for two to three days, some as long as a year. If we have too many, we transfer them to either Taylor (County) or Casey County.”
The inmates who are not transferred but have no bed are given “boats,” which are mats they can use to sleep on the floor; however, even those are in short supply.
“We’re very limited on space right now,” Sallee said. “But we do the best with what we can.”
Despite the overcrowding, Sallee said he believes the implementation of e-warrants in July 2011 was a step in the right direction. Sheriff’s deputy Peel agrees and said the extra workload on his department is also worth the extra effort.
“(E-warrants have) increased our work such as out-of-county transports because more and more people are being picked up than normally would be,” Peel said. “But the sheriff (Kevin Corman) and I agree it’s more efficient and with less chance of an error happening that can happen with paper warrants.”
E-warrants have been implemented in almost all 120 counties in Kentucky and have become a reliable means of communication between county departments, Peel said.
Unfortunately, the e-warrant system has caused some financial burden for both the jail and the sheriff’s department. For the jail, it is a concern over guards attending to the medical needs of inmates, Sallee said. For the sheriff’s office, it is a concern over the transportation of inmates who were served an e-warrant in another county or in Jessamine and are being transferred, Peel said. Both agencies have said they have found ways to maintain until they can increase their budget.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve cut regular overtime,” Sallee said. “Still, there are some expenses that cannot be helped. But we have some ideas in the works for the future.”
As far as transportation, the sheriff’s department has outsourced some inmate transfers to a private company, which Peel said saves the taxpayers a lot of money while not limiting the department’s manpower.