WKYT Investigates: Madison County jail officials' no-win situation

RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - "It's darned if you do, darned if you don't," said Madison County Judge Executive Kent Clark explaining the overcrowding issue in the county's jail.

The problem, Jailer Doug Thomas said, has been brewing for a while. "I don't sleep well. I worry about my employees and the people housed here as well," Thomas said.

"We are 195 bed facility," Thomas explained. But right now, there are about 100 extra inmates housed in the Madison County Detention Center. "People are stepping over people."

WKYT went on a tour of the jail. Mats cover the halls and inmates line walls. "It doesn't work, but we make it work," Thomas said. "This is the most crowded it's been, and getting worse everyday."

Judge Clark blames the county's population increase. He said the county has added 32,000 people in the past 20 years. Also drugs play a major role in the amount of inmates.

"The people that are getting arrested are coming in here and telling us they need to see a doctor because they're coming off heroin," Thomas said.
Some of those people, Thomas said, are from Detroit. Right now, around ten Madison County inmates have Michigan addresses. "At one time we had 16," Thomas said.

"We're getting hit from every angle. It's a no-win situation," Clark said. He said they can't accept many state inmates, which used to put $32 a day per inmate back into the jail. Instead, they're having to ship their own inmates out to other counties and pay them $32 a day to keep them. "So that on top of loosing the state prisoners is just doubling that liability to the general fund of the fiscal court," Clark said.

The best answer Clark has found is to build on to the jail. He said the amount of money it would cost to build on would balance out because they'd be able to house more state inmates. But Clark said support for his plan is lacking. He said it is tough to convince taxpayers to put money toward a place most hope to never visit.

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