The Richmond Register

Crime

April 9, 2013

County jail overcrowding issues continue

Magistrates discuss incarceration alternatives

RICHMOND — The overcrowding of Madison County’s 195-bed detention center has been a topic of discussion for years now.

The Richmond Register reported that during an April 2007 fiscal court meeting, Magistrate Larry Combs said building a new jail must be a top priority. Other news stories followed, which covered issues surrounding alternatives to incarceration and the jail’s funding.

The conversation continued at Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting when Magistrate Billy Ray Hughes, who said he has been “studying our jail situation,” brought up the affects of House Bill 463.

In 2011, the General Assembly passed HB 463 which aimed to reduce jail population and incarceration costs by allowing police to cite offenders for low-level crimes instead of automatically jailing them. It also encouraged treatment programs for drug offenders.

On Monday, the Madison County Detention Center housed 300 inmates, said Madison County Jailer Doug Thomas. But 10 inmates were transferred out by the state Department of Corrections because the jail was more than 125 percent over capacity.

If county prisoners are added to the jail and state prisoners are removed because of overcrowding, the county loses revenue generated by housing state prisoners, said Judge-Executive Kent Clark.

If this continues over the next three years, he said, fiscal court could be supplementing the jail budget with $2.3 million, leaving tax payers to foot the bill.

State prisoners can bring in up to $70,000 a month in state funds to the detention center, Thomas reported in the past.

But as the county’s population grows, so will its jail population, Clark said.

Based on a study of the county’s population growth, the jail will need to provide 420 beds by 2020, he added.

The magistrates tossed around ideas Tuesday to reduce jail population.

“Research shows there are mandatory intensive treatment programs that are more effective than incarceration,” Hughes said.

As a prosecutor, County Attorney Marc Robbins weighed in on the issue.

He invited the fiscal court to take a look at the criminal justice process -- “please come tomorrow (to district court when preliminary hearings are conducted) … and look at what we see on a daily and monthly basis. Then you’ll see where the problem comes from,” he said.

With implementation of HB 463, the judiciary is “erring on the side of letting people out (of jail),” Robbins said.

In some regards, he said, HB 463 has caused more problems because instead of making arrests, officers “cite people and ask them to come to court, rather than make them come to court.”

Monday, there were 36 people on district court’s jail docket “and almost everyone of them were people that had failed to come to court to begin with,” he said.

When people fail to show up to court, the problem is compounded when contempt of court charges are added on top of the original offense, Robbins said.

“It’s a huge problem, and trust me, we are very much aware of the situation, and we try to take that into account in every single case,” he said. “But, more than a financial matter, we need to make sure that the public is protected and the community is safe. I think that is the No. 1 role of government. Letting people out (of jail) to save money and jeopardizing folks that can’t feel comfortable in their home -- I don’t think is a good equation.”

Robbins again invited magistrates to look at the cases and give their thoughts on what should be done with some of the offenders.

“I’m not schooled in criminal justice, but all I can do is look at the research and talk about a mandatory intensive treatment program because so much of our incarceration is because of drug problems,” Hughes said.

“That’s true, but it’s not, at the same time,” Robbins replied. There are few people serving drug possession sentences, he said, but they are serving time for crimes connected to obtaining drugs.

“House Bill 463 talked about treatment. It gave lip-service to treatment, but the reality of it is, there’s not a whole lot there … until there is a better alternative, I think it would be improper to set somebody free for financial reasons if they put our community at risk,” Robbins said.

Later in the meeting, Clark said there are long waiting lists for free drug rehabilitation programs and “unless you’ve got $1,000 a day to go some place, there is not really an option for that.”

Magistrate Greg King said a problem he sees is the jailing of those who are behind on child support.

“We lock them up and put them in jail, and all we’re doing is making more of a burden to county taxpayers when there should be some kind of program that they have to work and pay that money,” King said.

As they look at expanding the jail, he said, the fiscal court also should look at “making them work to give back to the community.”

Inmates have “the best air conditioner” and other needs met, he said. “They are took care of better than people who are out here struggling and trying to make it.”

Robbins pointedly asked Jailer Thomas how many people enjoyed staying in jail.

“You might think they are being taken care of better than they should be, but the reality of it is, when you interfere with somebody’s freedom, it’s kind of a big deal,” Robbins said.

Every inmate who is qualified to be on work-release, is currently working, Clark said.

However, that number is limited because of bed space, Thomas said. Work-release inmates must be housed in a separate area.

“And even if you let them out to work, you still got to bring them back, put them to bed and feed them,” Clark added.

King said before the magistrates decide to build a $4.5 million jail expansion, every alternative should be examined to reduce the jail population.

“We’ve been working on alternatives for years,” Clark shot back. “It’s just one of those things where if we want to keep talking about alternatives and we don’t want to do anything about the problem we’re facing over here, then in three or four years, you all can sit here and vote to double people’s property taxes and see how fair that is, because that’s what it’s coming to -- bottom line.”

Clark said he will have a detailed presentation prepared for the next fiscal court meeting to talk about the jail situation.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.

1
Text Only
Crime
  • 7-30 Samantha Frederick.jpg RPD: Heroin sales lead to trafficking indictment

    Executing a warrant issued after Samantha Frederick, 29, Northgate Drive, was indicted July 16 by a Madison County grand jury, Richmond Police arrested her Monday on drug trafficking charges.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 Robert Abney.jpg RPD: Bottle bomb injures man, damages neighbor’s home

    Richmond Police on Friday charged Robert Abney, 30, of Moberly Avenue, in connection with a May 30 explosion that injured Abney and damaged a neighbor’s home.
    Officers were dispatched May 30 to a residence in the 500 block of Moberly Avenue to investigate the report of an explosion.
    They found the remains of a plastic bottle bomb near a residence adjoining Moberly’s, according to an RPD news release. A wall of the occupied home was smoldering and grass was burned in the area, it added.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • Jailed woman charged with heroin trafficking

    A Richmond woman already jailed on another charge was served with a drug trafficking warrant Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • 7-25 William Gilbert.jpg Four arrested on meth charges at Berea motel

    Berea Police arrested four people Wednesday at the Knights Inn on Chestnut Street, including a man they said tried to conceal a meth lab on his person.

    July 24, 2014 5 Photos

  • 7-24 Justin Smith.jpg One arrested, one sought in Sunday home invasion

    Two men in search of another man broke into a Keystone Drive home Sunday and harassed residents in another nearby home Monday, according to a Richmond Police report.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • RPD: Man falls through ceiling attempting to elude police

    When Richmond Police went to Cody Shelton’s Kristin Drive apartment at 9:44 p.m. Wednesday to arrest him on a parole-violation charge, they said he attempted to elude them by hiding in the attic crawl space.

    July 18, 2014

  • Man indicted in Manhattan Club shooting

    A man charged in a May 20 shooting at the Manhattan Club in which a man was wounded was indicted Wednesday by a Madison County grand jury.

    July 17, 2014

  • 7-18 Aaron Tate.jpg Local burglary suspect found in Texas border town

    A man wanted in Madison County on burglary and criminal mischief charges since March was arrested July 11 by the U.S. Marshal Service in Brownsville, Texas, on the Mexican board.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mother pleads guilty to allowing child rape

    Deanna Lawson, charged with 20 counts of complicity in the rape and sodomy of a minor, pleaded guilty in Madison Circuit Court on Wednesday.
    Between October 2011 and September 2012, Eric Kelley had sexual relations with Lawson’s two daughters, according to court documents.
    She was charged with complicity after police said they learned Lawson knew of the crimes but didn’t try to stop them or alert authorities.

    July 12, 2014

  • No extra jail time for parents on prostitution charge

    Anthony and Kathy Hart, two Madison County residents who pleaded guilty May 21 to prostituting their daughters, won’t be seeing any extra time in jail.
    Both parents, who served time in jail while their charges were pending, were sentenced to probation Thursday in Madison Circuit Court.

    July 11, 2014

AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

Yes
No
     View Results