New Jail For Bourbon County Discussed

At 7pm on Thursday, there was a meeting about the need for a new jail in Bourbon County.

Sheriff Bill Martin gave some background on the jail. He said the jail was built in 1977. It was made to house 27 inmates, 4 of them females. Average of 35 housed in jail now. The jail is so small the they can’t segregate prisoners as needed, so they have to send them somewhere else. In 1977 the goal was to rehabilitate prisoners. Courts would do things like order them to get their GED if they had not high school diploma.

Bill Martin would like to put in a 110 bed facility in order to try to make money by having other counties house prisoners in Bourbon County. He says the jail is the biggest liability to the county due to attempted suicides.

Someone from the audience asked why there were successful suicides now when there had not been in the past. The Sheriff said it was because “the climate of the inmate had changed.” He said that in 1977 you’d never think of people committing suicide in the jail.

He said that half of the people who are in the jail are not guilty.

Sheriff Martin listed the following problems:

  • Showers are rusting
  • Plumbing is leaking
  • Bathrooms are small
  • Heating is inefficient
  • Cameras are in the right place
  • Some windows are cracked
  • It is possible for males and females to communicate through the walls
  • Intercom system is old
  • No sprinklers

Artie Lucas of Goldberg Group Architects said a study done by his company projects 90 inmates in 10 years. They passed out schematic diagrams of various jail designs.  He said their design that would house 110 inmates would only require 15 full time employees which is the same number of people who are running the current jail. A question was asked why it takes 15 people to staff the current 27 bed jail. Mr. Lucas didn’t know.

The Sheriff from Cherokee County (population 21,000) said that Bourbon County paid  them $130,000 to house prisoners. He said he wasn’t worried about losing income from Bourbon County because there would be other people needing them to house inmates.

There was concern that housing inmates would cause their families to move to town. The Sheriff from Cherokee County said this isn’t the case because the jail would just be a temporarily holding facility and Bourbon County would be able to reject anyone they didn’t want to house from another institution.

The current cost per meal at the jail is $3 per day. Other jails said their cost is closer to $1 per meal.

People asked a Commissioner from Cherokee County if the income from housing inmates covered the debt of building their new jail. He said it wasn’t, it is being paid for with a .5 cent sales tax.

The numbers in the handouts seemed to indicate that the jail could pay for itself by housing inmates from other counties. Former Sheriff Grey said he has never seen a jail pay for itself by housing out of county inmates. The Commissioner from Cherokee County agreed.

The loan amortization schedule in the proposed plans show yearly payments for $421,579 per year on a $6 million loan for a 110 bed facility.