Friday, May 21, 1999

State to take 24 inmates from Kenton

County jail will still be tight

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Twenty-four state prisoners will be transferred out of the Kenton County Jail today, after county officials appealed to the state's corrections commissioner to reduce crowding in the troubled jail.

        Terry Carl said the transfer of state felons may be Kenton County's largest ever.

        “The most the state's ever taken from us (at one time) has been three or four,” Mr. Carl said Thursday. While he has been jailer only since January, Mr. Carl said those figures were borne out by a check of jail records and conversations with a longtime deputy.

        The prisoners, all parole violators who had already been sentenced for their crimes, will be moved to the state reformatory in LaGrange.

        Although the Kentucky Corrections Cabinet is supposed to move its prisoners out of county jails within 45 days, Northern Kentucky jailers have complained that it rarely happens, because state prisons are also full.

        “If there's no room in the inn, then we've got to keep them,” Mr. Carl said.

        The Kentucky Department of Corrections is currently housing about 820 of its prisoners in county jails throughout the state, said Carol Czirr, director of communications for the Kentucky Department of Corrections. “We often house (state prisoners) in county jail facil ities, until we are able to bring them into the state system,” Ms. Czirr said.

        Kenton County Deputy Judge-executive Scott Kimmich said he asked Corrections Commissioner Doug Sapp for help in reducing the jail's crowding problem, at the request of Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd.

        “The judge made the decision to do this, after discussing the overcrowding problem with the jailer,” Mr. Kimmich said. “He said we needed to intercede with corrections, and see if we could get them to grant the jailer's previous request to move the (state) prisoners.”

        Since taking office in January, Mr. Murgatroyd and the three county commissioners have spent much of their time dealing with problems related to the crowded jail.

        At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Kenton Fiscal Court will have a public hearing at the Erlanger Lions Club to get public opinion on four leading jail sites. By July 1, commissioners hope to decide where a new jail should be built.

        Mr. Carl said today's transfer is being done to provide short-term relief for the crowded jail, and was not done in response to a specific incident.

        While the Kenton County Jail has an official capacity of 262, Thursday's prisoner count was 303. That number recently has been as high as 325.

        Mr. Carl said he expects the jail's crowding problem to worsen, with the approach of summer. “In the summertime, we get rid of 25, and we gain 25 real quick.”


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