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Pre-filed bill aims to create a better process for moving inmates in Kentucky

Jailers say inmates are moved from one jail to another without any input from staff at the...
Jailers say inmates are moved from one jail to another without any input from staff at the impacted facilities, putting both the inmate and staff at risk. (WKYT)(WKYT)
Published: Nov. 28, 2019 at 1:49 PM EST
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A pre-filed bill in Frankfort hopes to address an issue county jailers across Kentucky are facing.

Not all jails across the state operate the same way. Some have different levels of care and capabilities for inmates, and many are over capacity.

Jailers say inmates are moved from one jail to another without any input from staff at the impacted facilities, putting both the inmate and staff at risk.

"They aren't checking. Do they have the capacity to house the prisoner, do they have the ability to provide the medical staff? And sometimes, inmates wind up in situations they shouldn't be in," said Rep. Phillip Pratt, R-Georgetown.

Pratt says the Scott County jailer brought this issue to his attention.

The Scott County Detention Center, while at 80 percent capacity, received an inmate. Pratt says the inmate was charged with murder and considered an escape risk and suicide risk. The inmate required one of the jail's four isolation cells.

Meanwhile, Franklin County's jailer said he could properly house the inmate.

"But the judge didn't ask," said Rep. Pratt. "Transferred [the inmate] to Scott County, who didn't want the inmate and it's now put a strain on them there. These jailers don't get a say."

Right now, an attorney can request a transfer for an inmate, and a judge then signs off on the move. Rep. Pratt says that usually happens without determining if the receiving jail has any of the needed medical care, programs, specialized staffing, or housing units.

That's why

, to create a better process for moving inmates.

Their bill would not take authority away from judges but aims to open up a line of communication with the impacted jailers.

"This is to allow the jailers to have a say so, the judge to have a say so, and hopefully it is better for everyone in the system," said Pratt.

The bill would also set a cap for how much a county jail could be billed for services that one of their inmates received while transferred to another facility.