WKYT Investigates: Fayette Co. Detention Center officer to inmate ratio

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - "I know a lot of the rank and file are concerned about their safety," said Town Branch FOP President Jim Capillo who believes the Fayette County Detention Center is bordering on being an unsafe environment for corrections officers.

Capillo took his concerns to city council.

"When they expressed concerns over the ratios and the fact that one officer might be in a unit with eighty inmates, we felt like, yeah, this needs to be looked at," said Council Member Peggy Henson.

"Our role is the protection of the public, the inmates, and the staff. Probably in that order," Capillo said.

Capillo says the jail is safe. But as time passes, the safety of the officers and staff is taking a hit.

In 2009, there were 299 corrections officers at the Fayette County Detention Center. Now, there are 263 corrections officers.

Director Rodney Ballard took us on a tour of the jail. While he says they could use more officers, he says a one to 80 ratio is the not unheard of. He says it's normal in segments of the jail with nonviolent criminals.

"But that's not uncommon in our industry," Ballard said. "If you went to Florida you could find one to 96 and two to 128."

Segments of the jail where non-violent offenders reside are broken up into sub-day rooms. Ten inmates are in each of the eight sub-day rooms.

Ballard explained this setup allows a corrections officer to only let ten inmates out at a time, if needed.

"As the inmate behavior goes up and conduct is not good, that's when you want additional people," Ballard said.

Ballard said the current ratio isn't a problem in his eyes, more of a concern. He's currently working on a plan with the city to bring in more officers.

"I have a great deal of respect for Director Ballard and I believe he is willing to work with us," Capillo said. "But his job is his job. He has to deal with the political realities."

"We have to be financially responsible with taxpayer dollars. But yet, we need to also be considerate of any safety issues for the corrections officers and inmates," said Henson.

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