The Richmond Register

Local News

November 20, 2012

Balancing act: County seeks to keep jail population down while increasing revenue

RICHMOND — This fall, Madison County officials began discussing in earnest plans to expand the county jail by 50 to 100 beds.

This is not a new topic to the fiscal court, however. In an April 2007 fiscal court meeting, Magistrate Larry Combs said building a new jail must be a top priority.

“We’ve dodged the bullet too many times, and I feel it’s eventually going to catch up with us,” Combs said then. “It’s not fair to our jailer to ask him to keep 250 prisoners when we only have 180 or 190 beds.”

With daily inmate numbers running around 260 or more a day, the county has lost thousands in revenue  as the state Department of Corrections continues to pull prisoners from the facility every time it goes over 125 percent capacity, Jailer Doug Thomas reported recently.

Not once in the past six months has the Madison County Detention Center been under 125 percent capacity, according to weekly population reports submitted to the Department of Corrections.

On Thursday, with an inmate population of 271, MCDC was the second largest jail in the state that was over capacity. It also was third among the state’s jails for number of prisoners (76) over capacity.



State prisoners and revenue

In decades past, Kentucky felons who were sentenced to more than a year in prison were sent to state-run penitentiaries. However, after Kentucky toughened its criminal sentencing laws in the late 1980s, and again in the late 1990s, the state facilities became overcrowded.

Kentucky’s Department of Corrections found a solution by housing lower-level felons in county jails, which originally were built to house people awaiting prosecution or serving misdemeanor sentences.

Today, about one-third of Kentucky felons are housed in county jails, according to the state Department of Corrections. Only Louisiana, which has 50 percent of its felons in county jails, ranks higher than Kentucky, according to a New York Times report.

Keeping felons in county jails not only relieves overcrowding in state prisons, but it also lowers costs. In 2011, the Department of Corrections reported that the average cost for a prisoner in a state-run facility was $60.14 a day. However, the average cost for a state prisoner at a county jail was just $34.79 a day.

County jails are eager to take in state prisoners to keep their beds full and generate the $31.34 per diem that the state pays for each inmate. Madison County Jailer Doug Thomas estimated at a recent fiscal court meeting that state prisoners bring in $54,000 to $70,000 a month in state funds to the detention center.

County Judge/Executive Kent Clark said in the current fiscal year, about $1 million had to be appropriated from the general fund to run the jail. The facility brings in about $1 million in revenue from  housing state inmates and jail fees, but with the reduction in state prisoners, this number is expected to drop, leaving county taxpayers responsible for footing more of the jail’s bills.

Text Only
Local News
  • 4-17 4Hfieldday1.jpg 4-H Environmental Field Day

    Madison County fourth-graders participated in several hands-on activities Tuesday and Wednesday during the annual 4-H Environmental Field Day at the county fairgrounds.

    April 16, 2014 8 Photos

  • Hearing delayed on West Main zone change

    Signs giving notice of a public hearing on a proposed zone change at the corner of West Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue were not posted in time for the Richmond Planning Commission to scheduled a public hearing for its April 24 business session.

    April 16, 2014

  • Berea mulls break with Kentucky Utilities

    The city of Berea is considering whether to extend its contract with Kentucky Utilities or to shop around for another electricity provider.

    April 16, 2014

  • 4-17 Melissa Lear.jpg BPD charge two in Richmond heroin-trafficking case

    Berea police arrested two women April 10 in a Richmond home in connection with heroin possession and trafficking.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-17 MuseVisit4.jpg Theater students hear actor, Berea alum Muse Watson

    “I killed about eight or nine kids, about your age,” actor Muse Watson joked as a room full of high schoolers erupted in laughter Wednesday at Madison Southern High School.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Legislature passes road-spending plan

    Kentucky House and Senate lawmakers agreed Tuesday to a $4.1 billion road-spending plan on the legislature’s final day, avoiding an expensive special session.
    The plan includes $5.2 billion worth of projects throughout the state. But as much as 25 percent of that money will not be spent. Lawmakers said they would like to include a cushion in case some projects are delayed because of environmental concerns or problems acquiring land.

    April 16, 2014

  • 4-16 CMMShealthfair5.jpg Health fairs cover contemporary teenage topics

    Berea Community High School health students coordinated their first all-day health fair in November that was catered to elementary students.

    But their spring fair Monday handled more mature issues that targeted the middle and high school crowd, said health teacher Cathy Jones.

    April 16, 2014 13 Photos

  • 4-16 Lisa Begley.jpg Police: Woman drove through storage business gate

    Richmond police arrested a Lexington woman Monday night after the property manager at Main Street Storage said she repeatedly drove her vehicle into a gate and fence at the 455 E. Main St. business.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local jobless rate for 2013 same as 2012

    Madison was one of 12 Kentucky counties with a 2013 jobless rate unchanged from the previous year, according to statistics released Tuesday.

    Still, only four counties – Woodford, 6.1; Fayette and Oldham, 6.5; and Scott, 6.7 – had jobless rates better than Madison’s 6.8 percent.

    April 16, 2014

  • Danville officials table fairness ordinance

    City officials in Danville have tabled an anti-discrimination proposal.
    The Advocate-Messenger reports that the move on Monday came after questions were raised about its legality and suggestions were made for changes.

    April 15, 2014

AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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

Should the Richmond City Commission stop rezoning property to allow construction of apartments?

Yes.
No
     View Results