By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
The Estill County Fiscal court met in special session on Thursday night to approve an inmate transportation plan. Kentucky law requires such a plan in the absence of a jail. The plan establishes who will be responsible for transporting the inmates, and sets guidelines for safely doing so.
Because the fiscal court and the judge had not approved a transportation plan by the date set by Circuit Judge Michael Dean, they were issued a summons to appear in court for a show-cause hearing this week.
County judge-executive Wallace Taylor referenced other plans and came up with a draft. However, a roomful of jail staff and local law enforcement officers came to the meeting to say that they felt they should have been included in the making of the plan.
Taylor said that he had patterned his plan after that of those in some other counties.
Morris expressed his frustrations with the current situation. “I don’t see how you can come up with a plan without talking to these people,” he said, referring to jail staff and police in the room.
He asked Taylor to not pass his proposed plan. He said that Powell County is about to open up 100 beds in their facility and will offer 24/7 medical staffingas well as help transporting.
Morris said he’d been ordered by Judge Dean to hold the inmates in the jail during court, but “the state says no.”
He said he had been advised by the state that if he held the inmates in the jail and “anything happened,” there would be a “bad, bad, bad liability” because the jail is not currently up to code.
“I’m stuck in the middle,” the jailer said.
After briefly reviewing an alternative plan drafted by deputy jailer Chad Smith and another jail employee, Judge Taylor said, “I like this plan.”
Under either plan, Estill County Jailer Bo Morris will become the “Prisoner Transport Officer.”
In reference to the proposed plan from the judge, Smith said, “I’m not going to be on call and not be paid.”
Gerald Rader agreed that the transport jail staff could not be kept on call and be paid only for when they work, and the workers have no insurance.
Irvine Police Chief Brad Smith spoke of how their current situation ties up local law enforcement. He said if they make an arrest but get another call, they can’t take the prisoner with them on the second call, which causes Smith to be “dead in the water” until his prisoner can be transported elsewhere, freeing him up to respond to the call.
Magistrate Darrell Johnson again expressed his opinion that the county should go ahead and pay for the sprinkler system and get the jail back open. Magistrate Rader agreed that the sprinkler should be fixed and the jail opened, at least as a holding cell.
Sheriff Gary Freeman said dependable vehicles would be needed.
The fiscal court decided to table any transportation plan until after a meeting between Judge Dean, Judge Leach and County Attorney Rodney Davis.
In other business, the court went with the recommendation of Ronnie Riddell, director of Estill County EMA/CSEPP, to accept and bid from GeoConex for new computer aided dispatch equipment and servicing.