State Auditor's Jail Report

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

A new report on the cost of operating county jails came out Tuesday. The study says taxpayers are spending too much on their county jails and says Kentucky should move toward a state-run system that could get a better price.

State auditor, Crit Luallen's, office conducted the state-wide review of county jails, touting it as the first of its kind. Luallen told reporters a more standardized approach to housing local inmates would save counties on inmates' medical and food costs. The report is a lengthy 504 pages. And area jailers are still trying to figure out what it means for them.

Warren County Jailer, Jackie Strode, says: "There's just a lot of unknowns."

Simpson County Jailer, Danny Booher, says: "I think it's very confusing."

For jailers the new lengthy report about how county jails are managed and spend their money is complicated.

Strode says: "The idea was to look at how much money was coming out of the general fund to support the jail each year. My understanding is that statewide that number has reached about $115 million."

That's 115 million dollars of taxpayer money that could go toward roads, new parks, and more. The report recommends a more unified corrections system as a way to save money. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would make county jails fall under the Department of Corrections by the year 2010. Meaning counties would no longer foot the bill for their jails.

Booher says: "It's not cheap at all in fact I think our budget here is about 2/3 of our total budget in Simpson County."

The state already controls sheriff's offices, PVA offices, and circuit clerk's offices. The problem is there is still a lot of unknown information as to how the Department of Corrections would operate county jails.

Strode says: "I have 81 staff members. Some have been here 17 years. So what to I tell them is going to happen to their job?"

Because of the unknown some jailers are not supportive of the unified jail system. Others see it as a way of life.

Booher says: "The only way we'll ever be able to tackle these missions is to look at them and try to figure ways to do things. And we can't do it just sitting around and wondering what to do."

Currently there are 70 local detention centers, 13 life-safety centers, two regional jails, and one jointly-operated facility in Kentucky. They house about 17,000 inmates, including about 6,300 state inmates.

For more on the findings of the report click here:

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