RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Madison County Detention Center has been overcrowded for years.
The judge executive says it all started in the 2000s with the pill problem and has only gotten worse with the increased use of heroin. He says 80% of inmates are there because of a drug-related offense but he has an idea to help take the cost of the overcrowded jail off of taxpayers.
The jail has enough beds for 184 inmates but right now it is responsible for more than 400. Since they can’t all fit, the jail has to pay other counties that have extra space to house the inmates.
Judge Executive Reagan Taylor says right now it costs about $2 million of the county budget to operate the jail each year, including $230-$300,000 to house inmates in other counties. Right now that money comes from Madison County property taxes.
Judge Taylor says with more and more people being incarcerated because of drugs, that amount will likely go up and the county can’t afford it.
“We’re just trying to look at all different kinds of options,” said Judge Taylor.
He plans to implement a Kentucky law that allows jails to charge inmates a daily fee up to $50. A similar ordinance was passed in Madison County back in 2000 for a $25 fee but it hasn’t been enforced.
“So we’re looking into figuring out what tat best fee per day charge is.”
Judge Taylor says other counties in the area charge $10 per day. The Madison County Detention Center already charges a one-time booking fee of $20.
From April 2016 to April 2017 he says the jail collected 5,530 booking fees and anticipates the additional daily fee to bring in around $300-700,000 a year once it is implemented.
Judge Taylor says the jail collects about 40% of all booking fees and thinks a similar rate will be collected for the daily fees. An outside contractor handles the booking fees and a similar situation will be done with the daily fees. Judge Taylor says if fees go unpaid, there will be a permanent record kept at the jail.
“At the end of the day do you want to be putting $2 million out of the general fund in the road department, er in the jail, or do you want to be patching roads or providing better services, better quality of life services to your citizens,” said Judge Taylor.
Madison County Jailer Doug Thomas is on board with the daily fees but he would like to see the money raised with the new fees stay with the jail. He hopes it could be used to help pay for more space- either expanding the current jail or building a new one, or creating a new rehab center in the county.
The plan is to have the new fees to start July 1st.