Madison County needs a new detention center. You know that, I know that, and it’s no big secret.
The current facility isn’t large enough to fit our current needs and there are no more bandaids available for short-term relief. The Madison County Fiscal Court has its hands tied regarding funding options for a new facility and the problem isn’t going away by simply ignoring the issues at hand and continually kicking the can down the road. That can now has rust and is no longer able to hold any suitable contents.
Madison County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor has been trying to address the issue since he was elected into office. A proposed insurance premium tax — which residents within the city of Richmond and Berea already pay — for county residents and a small hike for city citizens to make up the difference, to fund a new jail and detention center — was short-lived and failed to gain traction as a possible revenue avenue for the court to pursue last year.
During an interview with Madison County Jailer Steve Tussey and Madison County Treasurer Glenna Baker last week, the two county officials discussed the need for a new detention center and Tussey admitted the overcrowding in the current facility was more serious than he originally thought when he took over in January.
“It was a surprise (because) I didn’t realize how small the facility was,” Tussey said. “I knew we had a 184-bed facility with approximately 400 inmates, I knew that coming in from Day 1, back in January. I didn’t know just how crowded that was until I saw it and I could touch it, feel it and smell it.”
Sending inmates to other counties is also an issue, because the court has to pay for them to be housed and fed on a daily basis. It’s costly and that number continues to grow on a daily basis.
The ongoing drug epidemic is one of the main reasons for the overcrowding at the current facility and it takes more than just throwing the repeat offenders in the jail cell over and over again and expecting a different outcome once they are released.
There need to be programs and help available for drug addicts who aren’t able to help themselves overcome an addiction. They need to be willing to help themselves, but they also need somewhere to turn in times of trouble in order to get back on their feet and on a path to sobriety and lead a successful and normal life.
There are no easy solutions to the ongoing issues at our current facility and the court is running out of options. Credit Taylor and the court for trying to address the overcrowding and continually seeking a solution to the crisis.
It takes constituents and our court working together to find a viable solution. One thing is clear: Something needs to be done sooner rather than later.