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Cells inside the Grant County Detention Center are holding fewer and fewer inmates, which could cause a financial problem at the jail and the county.
The inmate population on Aug. 21 was 214.
At the beginning of the year, it was common to have about 330 inmates daily.
The jail’s capacity is 349, according to Jailer Terry Peeples.
“Last summer, this jail was full,” he said. “We were having to ship inmates to other jails because we could not house them. We were over capacity. Then, the state came out with the early release program to save the state money by releasing inmates. Well, they are releasing so many inmates that they can’t keep the jails full. Grant County is low, but so is every jail in the state.”
While many jails across the state have reported numbers below their capacity to the Department of Corrections for the week of Aug. 22, the Grant County Detention Center has one of the highest number of vacant beds in its facility with 138.
In Bullitt County, the jail has 305 beds, but the inmate population is 75 below capacity.
Likewise, in Hardin County, the main facility was holding 118 less inmates than its 382-capacity last week.
Pike County, with a 342-bed facility, was 72 inmates under capacity.
The main drop is in the number of state inmates, which the county receives $31.34 daily per inmate for housing. The jail currently has about 160 state inmates, said Peeples, who added changes already have been made to help reduced expenses.
“Judge (Darrell) Link and I have met on this on several occasions,” Peeples said. “We are working closely together because it is going to have an impact on the revenue side of the budget. We are consolidating our facility. Class D and X block are now housed in the main part of the facility and those two areas have been shut down. We’re not running the air conditioning units (in the closed area) to cut our expenses. It does require less staffing and that is why the Grant County Detention Center is currently on a hiring freeze. We have not laid anybody off. I don’t know if that is a possibility in the future.”
The X Block unit has a capacity of 60 inmates while the Class D area holds 70. However, Peeples said the population in those areas has been drastically reduced, especially in Class D inmates who work and clean throughout the county during the day.
“It has a dramatic effect on the Class D program,” Peeples said. “We normally run 70 Class D inmates. I think we’re down to 40. So, 40 inmates are trying to do the job that we did with 70. So far, we have still been able to send the inmates out to the courthouse, the dog pound, Dry Ridge, Williamstown, the historical society and we’re running three road crews cleaning up the county and state (roads.) But, it’s getting more difficult and challenging daily.”
Peeples said that he and his staff are in communication daily with the Department of Corrections to try to get more inmates house in Grant County. He also said he had contacted other jails around the state and even in other states asking if they can send inmates to Grant County because of overcrowding in their jails.
Peeples said he is also working with County Attorney Joe Taylor and the Department of Justice to bring back federal inmates to the jail.
“If the numbers stay the way they are, the jail is going to go back to costing the county more money,” Peeples said. “I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where we’ll cost the county so much money that it’s cheaper to close the jail and house inmates somewhere else. I’ve been fortunate since I’ve been the jailer that I’ve kept the population up around 350. So, it has cost a very minimal amount for us to operate the facility. It’s not going to be that way this year.”