Hickman County jail closes

Hickman County fiscal court made the decision Wednesday morning to close the local jail.

County leaders say at times the jail was housing zero county inmates, and the number of state inmates fluctuates in any time period. The county is currently working out a contract with the neighboring Fulton County Jail to pay them based on the number of county inmates housed there.

Hickman County says it will take two weeks to fully close the jail, but dispatch will continue to operate out of the building. While the county will still make payments on the building, they say closing the jail is a matter of dollars and cents.

In order to be self-sufficient, the Hickman County Jail needed at least 50 state inmates year round. County leaders say at some points they would have less than half that. Employees were costing the county an extra $5,000 per year in overtime. By closing the jail the county estimates saving anywhere from $100,000 to 150,000 per year, but those living and working in town are still worried.

The jail was one of Clinton Hardware owner Ralph Patey's customers, and he says his store has some closing of its own because the jail maintained an account at the store.

"Every time we lose a store or business in this county, it hurts the county," Patey says.

It will take the jail two weeks to close down completely, but they will still use the building for jobs and dispatch in the county.

As for the county that will now housing the inmates, Fulton County Jailer Ricky Parnell says the transfer is a big undertaking, but he also plans to hire as many Hickman County Jail employees as he can.

"They got babies to feed and houses to pay for, and they're good people. They're good deputies," says Parnell.

It's a difficult decision, but Hickman County Judge Executive Kenny Wilson says the money saved will help save the county money.

"It's been something that's been happening over an extended period of time," says Wilson.

Kentucky State Police is investigating into the Hickman County Jail about alleged misconduct and drugs. The KSP spokesperson wouldn't give any details. Wilson says the jail's closure has nothing to do with the investigation.

County inmates were transferred to Fulton County, and state inmates were split between the Marshall, Graves, and Fulton county jails.

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