By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
The Estill County Fiscal Court called a special meeting on Tuesday, December 27, to discuss jail operating procedures and to approve funds to meet the jail payroll.
Magistrate Gerald Rader read a list of proposed changes, including not having full-time employees work on holidays in order to cut back on overtime costs, purchasing packaged meals for inmates, beginning and sustaining inmate work, and limiting the number of employees working each day.
Rader said that in his opinion closing the jail is not the answer, but he asked Jailer Bo Morris if they could come up with anything to lessen expenses.
Morris expressed frustration over the criticism he has continued to receive over the operation of the jail. “I feel like we are judged as big a crooks as what’s in the jail right now,” he said.
Deputy Jailer Billy Miller spoke up to say that a work program is dependent on the signatures of Judges Dean or Leech. He said any person with a pending sentence, county or state, is not going to get sent out to work.
Miller said that “absolutely none” of the inmates at the jail right now are sentenced, that all have pending state charges or felonies.
He explained that other jails that have work programs are state facilities with sentenced inmates who can work off some time.
Miller also said it is not practical to cut the number of employees working at the same time. Both he and Morris said that the inmates are coming into the jail under the influence of heroin and meth, and they are often physically out of control. Both a male and a female employee must be on site at all times, even if there are no females incarcerated in case a female were brought in.
Morris said they cannot find part-time employees willing to work at the jail.
With jail employees seeing more and more people brought in on meth, heroin and bath salts, they say “someone will get hurt with this stuff they are on now.”
Chad Smith, also a deputy jailer, said, “You don’t get much gratitude for this job…it’s getting worse and worse.”
“The only thing you can logically put in place today is the meal plan,” Miller said. He also said that currently, food is prepared for the inmates in the jail kitchen.
Morris said 30 percent of his pay check is also going to support the jail, and he doesn’t like it any better than anyone else.
He also said that the estimate to repair the smoke exhaust system is $400, and the state needs an approval letter from the fiscal court to move forward on the project.
The court also voted to transfer funds from the general to jail funds for the amount of $20,000 to be used to meet jail payroll.
In other business, the fiscal court voted to transfer $42,049.55 in funds to pay December claims.
The next meeting of the Estill County Fiscal Court was scheduled for January 16 but will be rescheduled due to the Martin Luther King holiday.