Fayette jail staff shortages becoming ‘very concerning,’ Council told

Approved for 278 workers detention center is more than 100 short of that

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Finding workers at the Fayette County Detention Center always has been a problem. In fact, it’s a problem at many jails nationwide.

But in recent months, the shortages have become ‘very concerning,’ jail administrators and city leaders said this week.

A bonus plan being approved by the Lexington Fayette Urban County Council will help with higher pay. And the issue is one of the critical elements of a new contract being negotiated between the city and corrections officers.

But like many other first responder positions, finding workers is getting increasingly difficult.

“There’s no guarantee anything will help right now just like we’re facing in other divisions. The detention center is a very, very difficult job. We have great employees out there, they do a great job for us every day, they are stressed, they are overworked,” Public Safety Commissioner Ken Armstrong told the Urban County Council.

“I don’t care how much you pay them, pay them $100,000, and I don’t think they’ll come to work, that’s just my personal opinion. I’ll tell you, that is a tough job,” added Council member Richard Moloney, referring to the difficulties in attracting and keeping corrections staff.

The Urban Council was told Tuesday the jail is approved for 278 staff but is more than 100 people short of that. It has prompted discussions about changing procedures to insure safety.

Moloney says employees in the jail are having to look over 45-96 inmates, just by themselves. He says in his opinion, it’s the toughest job in the city. Armstrong says while there are cameras in place to help monitor the hallways and large pods, direct supervision of inmates is what’s really needed.

“At its core the problem is the number of employees we have, not the system in place because there’s a number of different systems that exist,” says Armstrong. “The theory there was the cameras would assist in keeping track of the inmates and also provide a higher level of security for the employees.”

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