Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Boone jail might ease crowding in Kenton

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — As a temporary solution to Kenton County's jail crowding, Boone County's judge-executive has proposed that his county house some of Kenton County's overflow prisoners when Boone County builds its new jail.

        “If we have extra space when we build a new jail, and they're overcrowded, I think Bit makes sense to possibly do some partnering,” said Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore.

        Mr. Moore said he mentioned the possibility to Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd at a recent meeting of Northern Kentucky's judge-executives.

        “We had a very preliminary discussion over a breakfast meeting,” said Kenton County Deputy Judge-executive Scott Kimmich. “Obviously, they've got to do something, and we've got to do something.”

        Boone County, which has the financial means to build a jail, hopes to open a new detention center within three years, said its jailer, John Schickel.

        Kenton County, on the other hand, has encountered delays in its jail plans. It approved a payroll tax increase in June to help pay for a jail, but questions remain about the legality of the tax.

        A new site also has yet to be selected. Last year, Kenton County officials rejected two suburban sites after opposition arose.

        Mr. Moore said he is suggesting that Boone County charge Kenton County a yet-to-be-determined daily fee for each Kenton County prisoner it houses. As the second-fastest growing county in Kentucky, Boone County may not initially fill a proposed 359-bed jail with its own prisoners, but it will probably need the additional space later, Mr. Moore said.

        “I also would want to put some limitations on the type of prisoners that we took,” Mr. Moore added, declining to elaborate.

        Mr. Schickel said Boone County already has accepted prisoners from other counties on occasion, and he would be willing to consider a special arrangement with Kenton County.

        “We'd be happy to house their prisoners down here if we have the room, but we're still talking three years before we would get a jail up and running,” Mr. Schickel said.

        Lt. Col. Jerry Muse, director of operations for the Kenton County Jail, said that he sees such a partnership working primarily for smaller counties, housing 15 to 20 prisoners a day, as opposed to Kenton County, which had 334 prisoners on Monday.

        He added that Kenton County would have to consider the financial ramifications of housing large numbers of prisoners elsewhere.

        “If this were to happen, we would have to send in sentenced inmates — people we're not going to have to be shuttling back and forth to court,” Mr. Muse said.


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