Last year, the Madison County Fiscal Court approved a $400,000 contract with CMW Architects to work on designs and layouts for the expansion of the Madison County Detention Center. Tuesday morning, they approved amending that contract to include an additional $13,000 which would include different design options for expansion.
Before the amendment's passing, there was heavy discussion on the long impending overcrowding issue at the jail which began with a question from Magistrate Larry Combs asking, “What would we be gaining?”
Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor said that there would be three concepts; two of which would be different expansion designs at the existing jail, and the third concept would be for the layout of an off-site facility, which Taylor says is questionable to him.
“I don’t know that I would want to spend the money on (the off-site facility) at this time, but it would give us the option to do that, so we wouldn’t have to bring it back to court,” Taylor said.
The amendment stated that the first design is a concept designed floor plan for an additional and renovations existing detention center, and would demonstrate the maximum number of beds obtainable on the current site.
Option two “would be a floor plan layout to demonstrate the maximum number of beds obtainable on the current site when employing inmate housing in a direct supervision model to the maximum extent practical.”
The third concept would be a layout and design for a new stand alone center, which would require financial accommodation from the fiscal court for the costs of transportation in shuffling inmates back and forth from the facility to the courthouse.
“Anything that we can do, whether it’s $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, whatever, anything we can do to ease the problems that we have there is what we need to do,” Combs said.
Taylor noted that signing this amendment agreement would eventually allow the court another option for what they think is best for the future of the county — be it direct supervision or if the site would still be on its current grounds.
“We have to have those options, so we can choose what direction we want to go in,” Taylor said. “There is one thing we have to agree on, our jail is way to small, and we have to do something either adding on to it, or building new, there is something that we have to do."
Sheriff Mike Coyle spoke of the jail and stated that at this time, moving the prisoners all across the state for court appearances was working the county into a budget that they don’t have.
“Like the judge said, it is going to have to be addressed, and addressed soon,” Coyle said. “And if the court systems are completely full as well as the jails then we are just going down a road that we have never been down before and it is going to have to be corrected very quick.”
Coyle spoke to the Fiscal Court saying that as opposed to transporting inmates back and forth to counties for court, that the county use camera court instead.
“This would take great strain off the court system, it would take great strain off the manpower at the sheriff’s office as well as the jail,” he said.
Magistrate John Tudor said that he agreed with the use of camera court, which allows the ability from inmates to be seen before a judge no matter their location in another courtroom.
“The judge can still see the demeanor of that individual with the technology we have, just like if they were right there in person,” Tudor said. “So I think that camera court is something we are going to have to go to because of transportation costs.”
Combs said that idea of just using camera court for inmates in other parts of the state has been brought up before, but that it had also been shot down because some judges at that time wanted to see the inmate face-to-face.
“Any ways that we can be more efficient and save tax dollars, whether it is in-direct or direct, I mean we all as elected officials, no matter if you are in the judicial branch, the administrative branch or what level you are at, you should be willing to look at a more efficient way of doing,” Taylor said.
Taylor said that in looking at the design of the new detention facility, the group really needed to work on making sure they had more programming space. He mentioned that in looking at the new facility, they needed to utilize it not only as a holding space but as a space where the inmates can be rehabilitated.
Tudor agreed with Taylor saying, “we have to do more than just incarcerate.”
“We have to have programs that will enable those individuals when they are released back into civilization and can operate and not go back into criminal activity,” Tudor said. “They have to have jobs, they have to education and they have to have life skills to manage on their own.”
• Craig Williams, Kentucky Environmental Foundation executive director, gave his third update about the upcoming operations that will destroy the chemical agent being held at the Blue Grass Army Depot in June.
• The Fiscal Court agreed to pay an additional $5,200 to Hinkle Environmental Services after the company used more material on a project as a result of an blowout incident on the site.
• Taylor read aloud a proclamation declaring the month of May Older Americans Month as well as Community Action Month, recognizing Kentucky River Foothills.
The next Madison County Fiscal Court meeting will be held May 28, 9:30 a.m. at the Madison County Courthouse, in Richmond.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.