Jailer Steve Tussey will be seeking a second term as jailer of the Madison County Detention Center.
In a letter distributed in early October, Tussey announced his campaign and highlighted his work at the facility over the past four years.
"As I wind up my first term as your jailer, I have been amazed at the outpouring of support we have received from the community in the past three years. When I took office, I inherited an overcrowded facility that was dark and unsanitary," Tussey shared. "Staff, while dedicated and hardworking, lacked training and direction, and there were virtually no self-improvement programs to help inmates change their behavior when they returned to the street. We have made great headway in these areas but there is still much to do."
Tussey stated the day he took office, the jail was rated at a capacity of 184 beds. However, the jail routinely housed more than 400 offenders on any given night, with many of the detainees sleeping on the floor. The cells were not maintained and much of the infrastructure was decimated by the overcrowding.
With the support of the Madison County Fiscal Court and some hard work and creativity by staff, Tussey said jail staff no longer have inmates sleeping on the floor. This was accomplished he said by utilizing triple bunks where feasible, and expanding contracting with other counties to house offenders when the number of offenders exceeds the jails capacity.
"We also have expanded our home incarceration program to have another alternative to housing inmates in the jail," he said. "To address the infrastructure deterioration, the county has successfully secured a contract through the fiscal court for a rehab of the jail that will allow us to recover the cost of the contract at no cost to the county while maintaining the jail in a usable condition."
In addition, Tussey stated when he took over the jail, there were virtually no programs, and offenders were left to their own resources to occupy their time.
There are now two separate drug treatment programs and a very active religious service with the hope to expand them once COVID-19 runs its course. These programs are at no cost to the county and are provided by volunteers and a grant from the University of Kentucky, Tussey explained.
"All of this has been done during the worst of the COVID pandemic. It has been a challenge with much of the population changing on a daily basis. We have implemented stringent testing protocols for staff and offenders, with every offender COVID-19 screened on admission and regularly throughout their commitment," he said. "Staff are also tested regularly and once available, the vaccine has been made available to staff and inmates. We are truly blessed that while we have had a significant number of positives, and some cases of COVID, we have not lost an offender or staff member."
In the past three years, the jail has partnered with other Madison County agencies to provide additional services to the community at no charge, according to Tussey.
In addition to things like the regular trash pickup we provide through the jail's inmate litter crews, Tussey said he also dispatches offenders to the animal shelter and to the county garage. At the garage, the jail provides vehicle clean-up and light maintenance to free up skilled county employees to get vehicles repaired and back on the road more quickly.
He said the jail regularly sends two offenders and a deputy to the animal shelter to help with the care and maintenance of the animals committed to their care. This helps to ensure the kennels remain clean and healthy, so the animals are ready for adoption. In the very near future, Tussey plans to begin bringing several dogs to the jail on a regular basis so the inmates can socialize them and train them to become welcome additions to any home.
"I want to emphasize that none of this would have been possible without the tremendous work done by the deputies and administrative staff of the Madison County Detention Center (MCDC)," he said. "We have expanded training well beyond that required by state statute for both supervisors and line staff. Increased proficiency has resulted in pay raises across the board that begins to allow us to retain staff and fill vacancies more quickly with good candidates. Staff salaries and retention will remain a top priority for me as this is a critical component of a well managed facility. I would also be remiss if I didn’t recognize the tremendous support of my family and friends, especially my wife Cathi."
Tussey hopes individuals will reach out to him or the office at the detention center with questions or come take a tour.
"I ask you to support me with your vote as I seek reelection, and we will continue to work together to make Madison County safe and prosperous for all its citizens," Tussey said.