The retirement of long-time jailer Ron Devere leaves the office of Madison County Jailer to one of three who are running this fall, a Democrat, a Republican and a write-in candidate.
Republican Charlie King, 49, of Richmond, is a firefighter for the city of Richmond who also works part-time for Madison County EMS. He ran unsuccessfully for jailer in 2001.
“I enjoy helping people,” he said, “and I like being a public servant.”
The son of a former jailer, King said he learned a lot from his father and has always wanted to follow in his footsteps.
King said his father treated all inmates “fair and equal.”
“He told me that everyone that was incarcerated was innocent until proven guilty, and that’s very important,” King said. “He also told that everyone in there has someone who loved them.”
The most important issue facing the Madison County Detention Center, King said, is overcrowding. He said solving the issue will not be easy, and state funds probably will not be available.
“We need to build an addition to the jail,” he said. “They’re about 60-plus over capacity. Something’s got to be done.”
He said he is confident in his ability to work with county and state legislators to find funding to solve the issue.
Voters should select him, King said, because he is a public servant, an EMT and he grew up in Madison County. He said he will surround himself with good staff, have certified deputies and will continue the training he does every day as a firefighter.
“We have got to be prepared,” King said. “That has to be top priority.”
Andre Patterson, 49, of Kingston, is on leave from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office as he campaigns as a write-in candidate for jailer.
Patterson has more than 26 years of law enforcement experience, 21 with the Kentucky State Police, one year each with the Richmond and Eastern Kentucky University police departments, and more than three years as a deputy sheriff.
Although security would remain the jail’s first priority, Patterson said he would introduce programs that he believes would enhance the well-being of inmates and the community.
Offering inmates stress- and anger-management classes would help prevent them from becoming repeat offenders, he said.
Patterson said he would like to get inmates involved in tending a garden to grow their own food. A garden would not only give inmates a more nutritious diet and save the county money, but getting them involved in productive work would help develop good work habits, he said.
Also, Patterson said, he would like to see inmates put to work cleaning and maintaining parks and roadsides throughout the county.
Although their budgets were not nearly as large as the detention center’s, Patterson said he learned about budgeting and financial management from the two small businesses he and his wife have operated over the years.
The Pattersons also have 15 years of experience as foster parents, and he continues to work with the youth of his church.
Democrat Doug Thomas, 50, of Berea, said his 14 years of work at the Madison County Detention Center, including a stint as assistant jailer under Ron Devere who is retiring, qualifies him for the job.
He currently is employed in an administrative position by the city of Berea.
Thomas unsuccessfully challenged Devere for the office in 2006.
“I took great pride in my work at the detention center and enjoyed serving the people of Madison County,” Thomas said. “I am running for this office because I care about what happens at the detention center and how the taxpayers’ money is spent.”
Budget constraints and the continuing economic uncertainty means, “Madison County needs a jailer who can manage revenues and expenditures,” he said
The much-publicized problems of the Kentucky League of Cities and the Association of Counties highlight the need for strict accountability and transparency in local government, Thomas said.
“As Madison County Jailer, I will make all legally accessible documents of the jail will available to the taxpayer without reservation,” he said. “The key word I want the taxpayer to remember is transparency.”
If elected, Thomas said he would generate monthly revenue and expenditure reports.
“We can have people with degrees and experience, but without honesty and integrity, the rest doesn’t matter. I will bring honesty, integrity and transparency to my office,” Thomas said.
The next jailer also will have to manage the rising inmate population, and Thomas said he would work with prosecutors and judges to develop secure plans of monitored release for non-violent offenders, such as ankle bracelets that track subjects with GPS devices. Inmates should be required to pay for their tracking devices, he said.