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AUGUST 10, 2017 

JAIL OFFICIALS ASSURE THAT EVERYTHING IS RUNNING OKAY DESPITE RUMORS THAT ROUGHER THAN NORMAL CONDITIONS AND INCREASING PRESSURE RAISING FEARS FOR SECURITY LAPSES DUE TO RECENT SEVERE OVERCROWDING AT BIG SANDY REGIONAL DETENTION CENTER.

IN THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS DETENTION CENTER HAS SEEN MOST DAYS OPERATING AT MORE THAN ONE THIRD OVER CAPACITY, WITH INDIVIDUALS REMARKING THE PRISONER COUNT IS HITTING ALL TIME HIGHS, A STATISTIC THAT JAIL OFFICIALS CONTRADICT AS UNTRUE, STATING THERE A PERIOD OF EVEN HIGHER NUMBERS OVER A DECADE AGO, AND THAT ALL COUNTY JAILS IN THE STATE ARE CURRENTLY OVERCROWDED... BUT ARE THEY??

IN FIRST NINE DAYS OF AUGUST 1, 168 INMATES BROUGHT IN TO THE JAIL....BUT ONLY 14 ARE FROM LAWRENCE COUNTY

AUGUST 10 - WRITTEN BY WADE QUEEN

Big Sandy Regional Detention Center Big Sandy Regional Detention Center

For the better part of the past few weeks, especially for the first part of August, the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center in Paintsville has been been seeing the number of inmates being booked and housing from at least 25 percent to, in the last 9 days making of this month of August, at around 35 percent over maximum capacity that the regional jail was designed for, which is designated at 225 inmates.

This latest wave of severe overcrowding at the BSRDC has been brought out by heavier than the normal number of arrests, mostly from 3 of the 4 assigned counties that are part of the BSRDC operations, Johnson, Magoffin, and Martin counties (Lawrence County is the fourth member).

Many of these arrests have individuals charged with a number of felonies for which the majority can not make bail or bond out. Also adding to the overcrowding are persons who are brought in to serve guilty plea jail times for criminal offenses they have gotten in trouble for. Most of those individuals usually come in on the weekends. Plus there are quite a few inmates getting booked for parole violations

And to top off on the overcrowding, the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center has been taking in more and more prisoners from other eastern Kentucky counties that are not part of the 4 counties overseeing the BSRDC. ( just saw a couple of days a prisoner who was brought in after being arrested in Lee County for a flagrant non-support charge out of Wolfe County, a county that more than often sends their arrest prisoners by a dozen or more every month lately).

But the overcrowding of the last few months, that began in the latter part of February that continued into June, then picked up again beginning in early July, has especially worsened in the last 2 or 3 weeks, but has become severe in all the days of this month.

From August 1 thru August 9, 168 prisoners were brought in to be booked at the BSRDC, with only 14 of those from Lawrence County (another 9 have already been booked this morning August 10, with one being from Lawrence County). At the current rate, the jail would see a count of 600 bookings by the end of this time, with the average monthly count for the BSRDC usually between 325 to 400 prisoners being brought in.

For the month of July, around 68 prisoners were brought in from Lawrence County. ( for note, at least 21 Lawrence County residents were arrested in other Kentucky counties last month ).

On Friday August 4, a startling 42 prisoners were brought in to the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center (with just 2 from Lawrence County). This may have been the highest one day intake in the jail's 30 year history.

Here is the daily inmate count so far this month:

TUESDAY AUGUST 1: 20, WEDNESDAY AUGUST 2: 14, THURSDAY AUGUST 3: 29, FRIDAY AUGUST 4: 42, SATURDAY AUGUST 5: EIGHT, SUNDAY AUGUST 6: NINE, MONDAY AUGUST 7: 12, TUESDAY AUGUST 8: 18, WEDNESDAY AUGUST 9: 16

The massive arrest last Friday caused the inmate count at the BSRDC to top over 300 late Friday night into Saturday morning. And every night since then the count has stayed at around 295, even after the inmate numbers lessen during the day with many bonding out only to have more being brought in during the later parts of the day unto the evening and night time hours. ( This morning August 10 at 8 AM, the jail population count was at 297 ).

This has caused some observers who have watched the BSRDC operations through the years that these high numbers mark an all time high, and that this severe overcrowding may be causing problems at the jail with inmate well care, significantly increased pressure on jail staff, and possibly security issues. 

F.D. "Pete" Fitzpatrick, BSRDC directorF.D. "Pete" Fitzpatrick, BSRDC director

In a statement over the weekend, the administrator for the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center, Pete Fitzpatrick, said there is no crisis at the center.

“This is the first I have heard of a "crisis" at BSRDC. I have been advised that the Jail routinely housed in the mid 350 range as recent as 10 years ago," Fitzpatrick said. "I am confident that we can handle this surge, I have a reserve of 75 beds for when the population is over 320 and 75 mats that can be utilized, if needed."

Fitzpatrick said jails all over the state are currently operating at capacity or above.

"I have been advised by Kentucky DOC Officials that all local jails in the state are currently operating over their rated capacity," Fitzpatrick said. "I have been here five years and housing has always been up and down with out a predictable theme. Based on over 20 years of law enforcement experience I believe that whenever you are dealing with human nature it is hard to predict when or what could occur.”

But on Friday night August 4 into Saturday morning August 9, there were 301 inmates that were being housed in the BSRDC, That is 76 over the posted capacity. One more than the 75 number of reserve bed mats that administrator Fitzpatrick said that he had.

Whichever inmate #301 that was taken into custody that night, was the unlucky jabroni who had to sleep on the concrete floor. Or may be inmate number 301 "asked nicely" to the 'right' fellow inmate if they could share a bed may or bunk bed.

Fitzpatrick said that is not the case and he has plenty of mats at the facility.

Further, Fitzpatrick stated that they were used to having that many inmates at the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center.

While that has been true for the vast amount of 2017, in the previous years right up to the end of 2016, the BSRDC daily inmate count for the vast majority of time was between 195 and 220 inmates.

As for the statement that  'every county jail in the state is currently overcrowded', a review of several dozen county jail inmate listings, show, while a fair amount of the county jails are indeed over their capacity, a majority of them are not. Even then, those county jails that are overcrowded, are at 5 percent to 10 percent over capacity, not the 25-35 percent higher the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center has been experiencing thru the last several weeks.

Time will tell how long the BSRDC can run at this exceedingly high pace and what the potential fallout could and will be, other than the the costs are getting even much worse than expected for jail expenditures for the general budgets for the 4 counties that run the jail: Johnson, Magoffin, Martin, and Lawrence counties.

In Lawrence County's case, which contributes the least amount of prisoners to the regional jail, that is undoubtedly going to accelerate the already exacerbated jail budget for fiscal 2017, that had by the end of April 2017, six months into the fiscal year budget with six months to go; was $200,000 over on the settled established $459,436 yearly budget.

Unless that is the recent drop off in arrests in Lawrence county since the beginning of the month is somehow part of a new unannounced plan to lessen the overall jail budget and jail cost issues for the near future.

 This article contains the opinion of its author.

Comments  

+1 #1 Really? 2017-08-10 23:04
WHO CARES !! Think about the consequences before you do something stupid.
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