By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer
A new challenger has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2014 county jailer’s race.
Stephen Tussey, director of Eastern Kentucky University’s correctional safety program, said Wednesday he would like to run in 2014.
Tussey, a Madison County native, said he has more than 30 years’ experience working in corrections, including working as national safety administrator with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C.
He has worked at six correctional facilities, Tussey said, and with the FBP he oversaw many facilities across the country before his retirement in 2005.
“I’m back home, still relatively young and I love the industry,” Tussey said.
Tussey will challenge incumbent Doug Thomas, who said in a Friday interview with the Register that he intends to seek re-election. Thomas is in his first term as jailer and said he began his career in corrections in 1986 working at the old Madison County jail.
Both candidates said the No. 1 issue facing the county was overcrowding at the Madison County Detention Center.
“That (overcrowding) is our big issue that we all face,” Thomas said.
Thomas recommended expanding the detention center, saying “we’ve got to build on or build new.”
Tussey also said the solution lies in new or expanded facilities.
“I know that’s pretty high in the sky,” Tussey said. “But, it’s certainly the biggest need.”
Thomas said the detention center has about 270 inmates now, but was designed for only 195 beds.
“That’s not including the more than 70 people we’ve got in home incarceration,” he said. “Overcrowding make running a jail more difficult and more dangerous.”
Tussey said that in addition to expanding the jail, he’d like to increase the training detention center employees receive using both national and local resources, including the university. He also said he was qualified to run training programs if elected.
“There are a lot of things we could do in-house if properly organized,” Tussey said.
Thomas said he had not focused much on his re-election campaign because the election is still more than a year away, but he said he would likely run an ad in October or November reflecting on the accomplishments of his first term.
Seth Littrell can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6623.