Overcrowded local jails costing taxpayers, officers

The McCracken County Regional Jail has no empty beds. The jail held 453 inmates this time last year. It now houses 541.

It took the state legislature to help with overcrowding. In 2011, lawmakers passed a bill allowing low-risk inmates to get reduced sentence. McCracken County Jailer Bill Adams said it worked, briefly. Now, he’s seeing a lot of those same criminals back in the cells. He says he’s hoping a new law will allow him and his staff to decrease population.

Inmates are booked into the McCracken County Regional Jail at all times of day, but there’s no space to put them. And that means corrections officers have to work even harder to keep the peace inside. Officers say it creates more violence for the staff.

But, by compensating inmates with time off their sentence, they could have a reason to work to get out sooner.

The minute inmates are booked, they are watched and can be rewarded for good behavior, community work, or education. All this information was kept in house and used for state inmates, now it can be used for county inmates.

Adams says with new legislation, he can grant good behavior time to county inmates. He says it could help the county inmate population, but he’s not overly optimistic. “I’m not the judge, and I’m not trying to be the judge, yet I see how much it costs the taxpayers of this county to incarcerate these people,” he says.

Similar to House Bill 463, he says this won’t be a cure-all. “At some point in time, we can’t keep building a bigger building," he says.

But Adams says there’s really only one way to keep numbers down, and that’s to keep them out of jail.

Adams says this is new legislation, and the jail only started using it last month. As for how effective it is, the numbers are still being collected.

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