County Jails Cry For Help, Beshear Says Not Yet

FRANKFORT --Despite a growing thunder of pleas from local officials, Gov. Steve Beshear says his administration won't push plans to ease pressure off the overburdened and underfunded county jail system this year, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.

"We're not planning on introducing any additional jail legislation during this session," Beshear told the Herald-Leader after his address Thursday night at the Kentucky County Judge Executive Association conference.

Instead, he said he's focusing on a task force --similar to past commissions called for this purpose -- to vet possible jail and judicial system reforms that would lay groundwork for future proposals, the Herald-Leader reports.

With the governor passing on the problem now, lawmakers from both parties and both chambers are pledging to dig into the matter with or without the administration.

"If the governor is missing in action, we'll take action by ourselves," said Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "To me, this is the No. 1 issue facing county governments and county government budgets."

Indeed, county officials from across Kentucky spent three days this week at the Kentucky Association of Counties conference in Lexington comparing jail-funding horror stories and bemoaning what they considered unmet promises of help from Frankfort for five years, reports the newspaper.

Greenup County Judge-Executive Robert Carpenter said his county budgeted $750,000 for this fiscal year for its jail and spent $450,000 through the first half.

Carpenter told the Herald-Leadder, "It looks like we're going to bust nines." Carpenter, a Democrat, who says he still has hope that Beshear will come through on his campaign promise to address the financial burdens associated with jails. "It's just gotten to where it's killing us."

copyright: Lexington Herald-Leader

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