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State cites BCDC for overcrowding

The Harrodsburg Herald of Harrodsburg, Kentucky

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Inspection Finds Prisoners Sleeping On Floors

Overcrowding has been a problem at The Boyle County Detention Center (BCDC) for quite some time. The jail was designed to house 220 inmates. Last week, it held 310, said Boyle County Jailer Barry Harmon.

Increasingly, it's not just the total number of prisoners, it's the growing female inmate population straining the jail's resources.

During Harmon's report at last week's meeting of the Boyle and Mercer County Joint Jail Committee, he said BCDC was designed to hold 28 female prisoners, but he currently has 77. "If I tried to put them all in the female cells, you wouldn't be able to walk in there," Harmon said.

He said guards are currently keeping 16 female inmates in an interior activity room. While Harmon has arranged for the inmates to have fresh drinking water, they sleep on mats on the floor and have no access to bathrooms.

An inspection conducted on April 28 by the Jail Services Branch of the Kentucky Department of Corrections found the BCDC seriously overcrowded. Nine different dorms and four day rooms had inmates sleeping on the floors. There were also numerous problems with the physical plant noted during the inspection. Harmon said the maintenance issues had been addressed, but the committee needed to look into constructing two 50-person dormitories.

"We have to change our viewpoint," Harmon said. "If we don't do anything, we're going to have to ship people to other jails."

Harmon noted that it would cost the committee $29 a day to ship inmates to Casey County. "Four years ago we didn't have this," he said. "What's it going to be four years from now?"

Harmon also said the BCDC needs an X-ray scanning machine to help prevent inmates smuggling contraband into the jail. "They're keistering in these drugs," he said.

One female prisoner from Mercer County smuggled in drugs and then overdosed. By the time guards found her, she had already turned blue. The inmate was taken to the hospital for treatment. She was placed on the ventilator for a while, but is expected to make a full recovery, Harmon said. "She would have been dead if she hadn't been found."

Harmon said traditional scanners cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars, but the scanners recently purchased by Laurel County only cost around $60,000. He proposed using the BCDC canteen fund to purchase the equipment. "By the first of the year, we'd have the money for it," he said. "It would make it much ore safer."

Boyle County Treasurer Mary Conley asked Harmon if there were any state or federal grants available to purchase the equipment.

"Not for jails," Harmon said, "we're at the bottom of the barrel."

In other action, the jail committee:

Voted to replace the video arraignment system at BCDC at a cost of $14,589.The antiquated system fails frequently and they have to transport prisoners to the courthouse. "It looks like King's Island" when prisoners are waiting for arraignment at the Boyle County Courthouse, Harmon said.

Last year, BCDC spent $3.43 million in expenses and recorded $1.54 million in revenue. The $1.88 million gap was funded by Boyle County — who contributed $1.24 million — and Mercer County — who contributed $672,841-in a 65/35 split.

We have to change our viewpoint. If we don't do anything, we're going to have to ship people to other jails.

Boyle County Jailer Barry Harmon

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Original Publication Date: July 16, 2015

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