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Jail continues to face overcrowding issue

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Taylor County Detention Center has been at approximately 140 percent capacity on average

By Zac Oakes

 

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As jails and prisons around Kentucky debate the next steps with a majority holding more inmates than beds, the Taylor County Detention Center has not been immune to the jail overcrowding situation in the state. 

A report in the Central Kentucky News-Journal last March detailed the overcrowding problem, and statistics show that the problem is showing no signs of letting up, either at the Taylor County Detention Center or any of the other jails in Kentucky. 

According to the Kentucky Department of Corrections, which performs a weekly jail population report of jails and prisons across Kentucky, the average population for the month of March has been at 285 inmates. 

The jail’s official capacity is 204 inmates, which leaves the jail at an average 140 percent capacity. 

The CKNJ compiled the weekly figures from the Kentucky Department of Corrections and found that over the past year, from April 2017 to March 2018, the Taylor County Detention Center had an average population of 286-287 inmates.  

Taylor County Jailer Hack Marcum has said that while the Taylor County Detention Center is overcrowded, most jails in Kentucky are, and Taylor County’s overcrowding situation isn’t as bad as several others. 

For example, Adair County Regional Jail had a monthly average of 108 inmates lodged in a jail with 51 beds, leaving the jail at an average capacity of 212 percent. 

In nearby Russell County, during the month of March, the Russell County Detention Center has averaged 141 inmates in a facility with only 82 beds, dividing out to a 172 percent capacity. 

As for other nearby facilities, LaRue County has had an average of 117 inmates in a facility that holds 103 inmates, for a capacity of 114 percent; Marion County has had an average of 219 inmates in a 217 inmate facility, barely eclipsing 100 percent, and Casey County has been at nearly 115 percent capacity on average in the month of March with an average of 186 inmates in a 162-bed facility. 

Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Secretary John Tilley attributed the overcrowding problems around the state to the drug epidemic, low felony thresholds, and bail inconsistencies. 

"We've been talking about this problem for a long time," Tilley told Lexington television station WKYT. 

Marcum has said in the past that he attributes a lot of the overcrowding problem in Taylor County to drug abuse. 

“The drug problem has really escalated,” Marcum said. “When you have larger drug problems, there are more arrests, more convictions, and more people have to be housed.”

In total, of the jails listed on the Kentucky Department of Corrections Weekly Report, more than 80 reported having more inmates than beds for the week of March 15. 

According to some estimates, Kentucky’s inmate population could expand by as much as 19 percent over the next decade, costing taxpayers an estimated $600 million. 

A state workgroup has been formed and tasked with tackling the problem of jail overcrowding in the state, while still improving safety. Until then, local jailers will continue to tackle the challenges of their overcrowded facilities.